Irish Times Pub

1200 Government Street in Downtown Victoria, BC tel: 250.383.7775

One of my favourite traditions is Robbie Burns Day. Every Year on  January 25, I make sure to eat some haggis, drink some whiskey and toast the bard.

In the past I have hosted such events at my house and taken personal responsibility for reading the 'Ode to the Haggis' and various other poems that are integral to the day. It's not everyday when you get to get drunk and read bawdy poetry.

This year however, we were feeling a little burnt out from the holiday party season and decided to invite our friends out to the Irish Times Pub for their Burns Supper.

Located downtown in Bastion Square in the lavishly renovated building that used to be the home of the Ralph Lauren shop, the Irish Times tends to impress visitors with it's spectacular decor. More so than not, most patrons realise how the construction bills are getting paid - the Irish Times is not known for value priced food and beer. But hey, Robbie Burns Day is a special occasion.

We got to the restaurant at about 6pm to ensure our seats for the 7pm procession of the haggis. We were a little late apparently as we were reduced to seats on the upper mezzanine. Our table didn't seam too bad until the evening's events actually began. The procession of the haggis passed by, but the 'Ode' was recited on the lower level without amplification. Since they had a band playing later on that evening it continues to boggle my mind why they didn't use a microphone so we could all enjoy the poem. That was a serious pisser.

However, there was still fun to be had - we were going to eat our little haggis friend. The only problem was, we weren't allowed to order the haggis ($13.99) until after the procession, for some weird, seemingly bureaucratic reason. As a result, one of our guests had a near panic attack worrying that they would run out of haggis before getting to us. Crisis averted, while the silly procedure was a bit upsetting, we did indeed get the haggis. Having eaten a fair number of haggi in my day, I was happy to note that our haggis didn't have any of the bitter taste common to poorly prepared haggi. In fact, while not perfectly traditional (it was served with gravy and was not doused in whiskey) I was completely satisfied with their culinary effort. In contrast, we also ordered the smoked salmon board ($13.99). Hot smoked salmon with cream cheese, oat cakes, onion relish and chutney, the flavours were lovely, but it was rather pricey for the portion.

Same goes for the booze - while they have a great selection of import beers and other libations, you'll easily pay over $6 each for pints of beer. That adds up pretty fast.

The service was good, but our server was clearly frazzled for the most part of the evening. For an easily anticipated crowd, I'm guessing she could have used a little more help.

Reviewed January 25, 2006