James Hoban's, an Irish restaurant and bar opened at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 17. I just happened to be wandering by about 4:15 and, in the interests of giving good blog entries of course, I decided to go in and sample the wares. The bartender asked me, "Is this your first time here?" Funny guy.
Hoban's is where Cloud used to be at 1 Dupont Circle and it's what an Irish born patron sitting next to me at the bar called, "an upscale Irish bar." And then he said, and I swear he said it, not me, "Now there's an oxymoron for you!"
The entire staff of about 30 people showed up that afternoon to get familiar with the place so they were tripping over themselves and certainly outnumbered the dozen or so patrons in the place when I was there. I had the Shepherd's Pie which was OK though a little dry and had obviously just been nuked because I singed my fingers on the plate. When one of the many black-shirted staff members asked me for about the fifth time, "Is everything OK," I told him about the dryness and he said, "Oooh, good feedback," and brought me a little bowl of gravy. Both the attitude and the gravy helped. The Guinness was good but, at six bucks a pint, too expensive.
The place looks like a lot of money went into the refurbishment and the owner, Patrick somebody, who came over to say hello, agreed. Though he lives in Ireland, Patrick owns restaurants in Philadelphia and Virginia and now D.C. So it's a brand spanking new restaurant with lots of light -- not filled with dark wood and twenty-watt bulbs like many so-called Irish bars -- friendly staff and a decent beer selection. I'm not sure which demographic they're after: it's not a sports bar, I only saw one television and that was tuned to golf during a Sunday afternoon filled with NFL games, it's not a bar with dart boards or pool tables, it's just a big, almost-in-the-round bar with lots of dining space and carpets on the floor!
Now whoever heard of carpets in an Irish bar?
Incidentally, speaking of Cloud, I was told the last entry in their log book was, "the police are on the way!"