Celtic Gardens: Midtown Goes Irish, Sort Of
There are certain things you claim to regret having one more of without meaning it - drinks, usually, but we wouldn't fault you for anything more physically or emotionally damaging. You'll keep getting that extra serving, though, because moderately bad decisions can lead to decent stories, or at least give you an excuse for moving slower in the morning.
"Are you sure this place just opened? The sign looks old."
And then there are things you truly don't need more of. We're pretty sure William Blake never wrote anything about the palace of wisdom being reached through an excess of generic Midtown bars.
We don't want to be overly negative, so here are some good things about Celtic Gardens, which opened about a month ago: There's a decent selection of beer on tap, which gave us our first taste of St. Arnold's Santo. The patio is large, with plenty of seating and a good view of a section of the skyline. The bathrooms have faucets with cut-away top halves so they look like components in an old-timey water mill.
For the less than positive side, let's turn to one of the bar's opening PR salvos, as posted by management to Yelp: "Celtic Gardens, an authentic Irish Pub and Outdoor Lounge located in Midtown on the corner of Louisiana St. and Hadley St. Brought to you by KCH Entertainment Group, the team behind Pub Fiction, Shot Bar and EI8HT, Celtic Gardens is a highly anticipated new spot in Midtown."
An authentic Irish pub, with authentic valet parking, steeped in generations of tradition, brought to you by KCH Entertainment Group. See also, Intro to World Cultures, brought to you by Disney.
Celtic Gardens' execution is sleek and a little mixed-up. The patio features those low, all-weather couches like you'd see outdoors at an upscale lounge. There's a bags/cornhole set like you'd see at a more casual, sports-oriented place. Plenty of TVs inside, of course. When we were there on a one-third-capacity weeknight, music went from Bob Marley to some traditional Irish Chieftains deal to radio pop to the Breeders. The clusters of nicely-dressed patrons mostly socialized in small groups, even the ones drinking car bombs, though the availability of cocktails by the pitcher suggests a rowdier crowd on other nights.
As for the Irish element, Tuesdays feature half off real Irish offerings like Guinness, Smithwicks and Jameson, and well as made-up offerings like Irish Tacos. (The bar has a full food menu.) There are a lot of Irish whiskey-based cocktails with silly names. There are decorative touches like the sign saying céad míle fáilte, which translates as "a hundred thousand pieces of quasi-Irish flair." It's kind of like Pub Fiction lived abroad for six months and came home showing off a new accent.
It's not that we wish Celtic Gardens any ill will, or that we're faulting any drinkers in the neighborhood who are happy to see another Midtown patio open in time for decent weather. But as we wrap this up, we've nearly forgotten what bar we were even writing about.
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