It seemed that pubs became the keynote of our trip to the Irish island, so being in Belfast we had to check the offer of local public houses, because this is what the word “pub” comes from. In the very center of Belfast, right accross the street from famous Europa Hotel, we found a real treasure. Nothing like that we have seen during our pub crawl in Dublin. Crown Liquor Saloon is an unusual place. Seeing it only from the outside one can expect entering some kind of a special place. The tradition of pub in this place reaches the beginings of 19th century but the name Crown Liquor Saloon appeared only in 1885. Facade of the building is richly decorated with ceramic tiles and the most important element made of them is the crown on the floor right at the entrance. History of the crown is connected with pub’s first owner, who was an Irish nationalist and put the crown in this position so that everyone who comes in could trample it.
The saloon is like a time machine. It is owned by National Trust which invested huge amounts of money in restoration. Thanks to that we can admire inside all the finest elements perfectly maintained. Pub was hurt many times during The Troubles, because it is located exactly opposite of main IRA’s target – Europa Hotel. The institution had to spend huge amounts of money since the place was bombed many times. The whole concept of the interior is very interesting – it is consists of separate little rooms, kind of compartments, which provide total intimacy to their guests. When the doors of smaller and larger wooden boxes are closed it is totaly not visible from the outside who is inside. Pretty good solution for visiting with the baby. We just close the door and the little one can freely play under the table. Another thing is that it’s pretty dark there, one would rather say – romantic. Windows are dcorated with colorful stained glass, so there is no chance to see from the outside what is going on inside and the amount of light which enters the room is very small. And inside it’s usually full. We stepped in there in the early afternoon and were lucky to find one box available. Right after that the place got full of tourists and locals. All the seats at the bar were occupied and the main room got crowdy. At the same tme Ola was familiarizing herself with all the cards of menus behind closed wooden doors.
Some say that inside saloon more looks more like a church, with its marvelous stained glass windows and wooden boxes resembling confessional booths. This comparison is not so senceless as the pub was decorated by Itaian architects who came to Belfast to build Catholic churches. Whole floor is covered with mosaic. Long bar with marble top is lit by gas lamps. Below the marble it is tiled with colorful ceramic plates and interesting solution we find at the bottom – there is a heated foot rest. Eye-catching wooden constructions, nicely ornated, with built-in mirrors separate people sitting at the bar. It seems that none of interior’s elements has been overlooked by decorators, wooden panels with floral motifes are just above the heads of pub visitors and each of columns looks like covered with scales.
Behind the bar guests will find rich offer of all liquors, from Guiness, through craft beers, on different kinds of whisky finishing. They have craft beers from casks served under their own name of Nicolson’s with different kinds for different seasons. As every decent Irish pub Crown Liquor Saloon offers food as well. We were positively surprised by non-meat burgers. Besides that they offer of course fish and chips, different kinds of burgers, sandwiches and the choice of differently cooked meats. The atmosphere is relaxed, cheerful and of course loud and happy and the little one immediately gains the interest of stuff and other guests causing wide smiles on their faces.
Being in Belfast one has to necessarily visit Crown Liquor Saloon and grab at least one beer. And finding it won’t be difficult as it is located in the heart of Belfast, in the area called Golden Mile which gathers most of city attractions: Europa Hotel, Grand Opera House or City Hall.