Of all of the places that I’ve ever travelled, the British Isles and Ireland have to be the homiest. Maybe it’s because Canadian culture is so closely tied to British and Irish heritage, but stepping off the plane into Heathrow or Dublin Airport feels like you’re coming home from an extended vacation.
For those of us with British and Irish parents or grandparents, maybe it’s the accent that does it. However, I’d be more willing to guess that it’s the ability to find a little slice of comfort on just about every street corner. Pubs are a part of the lifestyle across the pond, and as someone who spent a substantial amount of time working and travelling around England, Scotland, and Ireland, I have to say that it’s tough to find a pub over here that can compare.
The Heather (as it’s commonly referred to by downtown Vancouverites) is a bit of a mix between an authentic Irish pub and a trendy Gastown bar. The floors are made of reclaimed wood from the Guinness factory in Dublin, and at least 75% of the staff seem to have an Irish accent. Of course, Irish favorites such as Guinness and Kilkenny are served on tap. However, it’s the food that I find to be the most authentically Irish piece of the puzzle. The steak and ale pot pie is incredible, and the bangers and mash are just as good as any that I remember eating in Ireland or the UK.
The place is generally a bit quiet until nighttime rolls around, at which point it turns into a party haven for White Caps fans, locals who are out for a few pints, a few high rollers here and there, and on one occasion I’ve even see a bachelorette party seat themselves at the long table in the Salty Tongue (also part of the Heather).
Walking through the back door will take you to the patio which runs alongside the Shebeen, a whiskey bar that’s disconnected from the Heather but, like the Salty Tongue, still part of it all. Unlike most pubs in Ireland that I remember there isn’t a TV in every corner playing soccer, but the Shebeen does have a few TVs here and there playing the hockey game during the winter.
The Heather is an interesting place. You’d think that being broken up into three distinct sections (The Heather, The Salty Tongue, and The Shebeen) would create a disjointed atmosphere. However, it’s almost like visiting somewhere like the famous college bar in Toronto, The Madison, on which each floor has a bit of a different vibe. The difference here is that all three sections of the Irish Heather are on the same level, and it’s definitely not a college bar. Nevertheless, that’s not to say that it’s not a ton of fun.
Whether you’re an Irish traveller rolling in on a cruise ship, looking for a taste of home, or just a local looking to have a few beers with friends at a trendy spot in Gastown, the Irish Heather definitely fits the bill.Her Take Watch Irish Heather Video