Review by Jesse Schule (TravelinAsia)
Established in August of 1992, The U.N Irish Pub was originally “The Crusty Loaf Bakery”. The original owners were Rosemary O’Connell from County Monaghan in Ireland, and her husband Daeng, from Chiang Mai. In the early days, the bakery became a meeting place for expats to keep in touch with one another. In the early 90s, not everyone owned a mobile phone, so people would meet up at the bakery and often enjoy a few drinks. In order to comply with Thai Law, establishments that serve alcohol are required to advertise as such, this prompted Daeng to post a notice on a chalk board saying “The Irish Pub”. Since then the bakery has developed into a restaurant and bar, with a pub upstairs showing live sporting events and hosting live music. The bakery still supplies fresh bread to the public, as well as local restaurants and cafes around the city of Chiang Mai.
Rosemary O’Connell returned to Ireland in 1998. Her husband stayed on as part owner of the Irish Bar until 2001, but has since left, to open a new establishment. The current ownership is made up of Australian, Thai and Kiwi partners. Because the Irish Bar’s owners are no longer Irish, it was decided (over a few drinks) to add “The United Nations” to the name of the pub. The bar is now known as “The U.N. Irish Pub.”
The U.N. Irish Pub is located on Rajwithie Rd, not far from the three kings monument in the heart of the city. The pub is popular with local expats as well as tourists, one of the advantages of the location is that it is away from the hustle and bustle of the Tha Pae Gate and Night Bazaar areas. There are few touts or vendors to hassle you in this area, so you can feel free to relax and enjoy yourself. From your first glance, it may appear from the street as if the bar is empty, don’t let this fool you. There is an outdoor garden area for customers to enjoy food and drink, as well as the pub upstairs with live music and sporting events.
Breakfast – There are many options on the breakfast menu, surely the favourites are the Big Irish and the English Breakfast. The Big Irish is 2 eggs any style with pork sausage, back bacon, grilled tomato, baked beans, fried mushrooms, fried bread, and shallow fried potatoes all for 160THB. The English Breakfast is 2 eggs any style with pork sausage, back bacon, grilled tomato, toast, butter and jam for only 130THB.
Irish Stew – A traditional Irish stew with a hearty bowl of beef rather than lamb, and vegetables served with a homemade bread roll and butter.
Homemade Pies – They have a variety of freshly baked homemade pies. My favourite is the Guinness beef, also available is, steak and onion, chicken, leek and mushroom as well as spinach and mushroom in cream sauce. The pies are very reasonably priced at only 95THB each.
Fish And Chips – One of the most popular items on the menu, the British style fish and chips are a house favourite.
Pizza – The Pizzas are made with fresh pizza crust from their bakery, with several toppings available, prices range from 150-200THB.
Burgers – The burgers at the Irish Pub are legendary, of course they are made with fresh homemade burger buns from the bakery. It was once written in a restaurant review, that “The U.N. Irish Pub has the best burgers in Chiang Mai”, the writer went on to say that another restaurant in Chiang Mai had better buns, ironically the writer was not aware that the other restaurant he was referring to actually purchased their buns from the bakery at the U.N Irish Pub.
Guinness – It wouldn’t really be an Irish Pub if they didn’t serve Guinness! The Guinness is just as good as it is in Ireland, as it is brewed in Dublin. The good news is that it won’t cost as much as it might in other Irish Pubs in Thailand and around Asia.
Blackthorn Cider & Olde English Cider – My friends from England or Great Britain are always happy any chance they get to have a cider. I prefer the local beers myself, but the ciders are there for those who enjoy them.
Beers – Aside from Guinness and cider, there are also a wide variety of local and imported beers available.
Wine – They have a selection of wines for those people that would like to enjoy wine with dinner, or simply prefer wine to beer and spirits.
LIVE SPORTING EVENTS
The U.N. Irish Pub is my favourite spot in Chiang Mai for viewing live sporting events. With 3 big screen HD TVs, there is not a bad seat in the house. They have all the English Premier League football games broadcast live on UBC satellite in English language. In the mornings they show American sports, live hockey, baseball, basketball and NFL football live on ASN. They also show replays of all the big games throught the day. Motor sports, rugby, cricket and any other sport you can think of are also shown in the bar, Rugby certainly draws the biggest crowds. You can check the U.N Irish Pub’s facebook page for a complete list of all upcoming televised events.
Every Tuesday and Friday night, the U.N. Irish pub is alive with Irish Country music played by Mac & Mel. You can check out their videos on YouTube to see a sample of their great Irish music. There is also an open mic on Wednesday nights hosted by Lindsay.
Every Thursday is trivia night at the U.N. Irish Pub. There is normally a good sized crowd that turns out for the quiz. Expats and tourists turn up from America, Great Britain, Europe and all over the world. The theme of the questions is truly international in order to cater to a multinational crowd. There is no limit to the size of the teams, each team pays an entry fee of 100THB. Normally there are between 15 – 20 teams.
THE “CRUSTY LOAF” BAKERY
Before it became known as the U.N. Irish Pub, it was simply called the “Crusty Loaf Bakery”. The times have changed, but the fresh baked bread remains the same. Locals will remember that in the early days, this was one of the only places to get fresh baked bread in Chiang Mai. The bakery still supplies fresh bread, burger buns, and other baked goods to several other restaurants and bars in the city. Many people still stop by the bakery to buy their bread, and visit old friends, just as they did in the days before the bakery became a pub.
Over the past 18 years, the Irish pub has been lucky to have employed many loyal Thai staff that have stayed with them over the years. The atmosphere amongst the staff and owners is much like that of a family. Many businesses in Thailand have troubles keeping staff, and there is often a high turnover. The U.N, Irish Pub has been fortunate enough not to have had this problem. The owners are very active with the business, and there is always an owner present in the evenings to greet and chat with the customers. Anyone with any experience in Thailand will know that you can not always get accurate information from the Thai staff at most businesses. It is always nice to have somebody there who can give you a straight answer to your questions or perhaps someone just to have a chat with.
RUGBY & CRICKET
The U.N Irish Pub actively sponsors several local sports teams including teams in both the Chiang Mai Rugby Tens as well as the Chiang Mai Cricket Sixes. One of the photos above shows the Australian owner (Sandy) with the “Gang Green”.