The Gateway, 31 Greyfriars Rd, Reading, RG1 1PA.
There are Irish pubs, and there are ‘Irish pubs’. Drinking a Guinness in O’Neill’s for a taste of Galway is like getting a flavour of Italy by slurping Cappuccino at a Wild Bean Cafe. But you get the genuine feeling of Ireland from proper Irish pubs like The Gateway. Let’s be popping in, so we will. To be sure. Etc.
Location: You’ll find The Gateway on Greyfriars Road, making up 33% of The Three G’s – The Gateway, The Greyfriar and The Guineas. Just off Friar Street, you’re a three minute stagger to the station.
Drink Selection: Sadly, they no longer have Murphy’s on tap, which makes us bitter (extra points if you get that joke…). But you just order Guinness instead, don’t you? Served by charming Irish barmaids, they’ll ask you if you want ‘Original or Extra Cold’ and you’ll ask them to repeat what they asked six times. Don’t expect too much in the way of ales and the like, but your normal lagers and ciders are available.
Atmosphere/Punterwatch: This place is THE pub for Reading’s sizeable Irish community. So, as you can imagine, things can get pretty lively in there of a weekend. Greyfriars Road has a decent post-work crowd too, so expect to see tired sorts in suits grabbing 6pm stouts in the week.
Beer Garden/Smoking Area: Nowt out back, you’re limited to smoking at a bench out front on the road.
Food: Limited lunches and dinners, specials and the like. Homecooked style, it’s no gastro pub, but there’s plenty to pick from. It’s how pub food used to be before Jamie Oliver or whoever it was decided that pubs needed head chefs and Chateaubriand.
Sports? Not only is The Gateway an Irish pub, it’s also a London Irish pub. Just like The Butler and The Bugle. Players have been known to drop in on occasion (as have former Reading FC players from the Emerald Isle like Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Noel Hunt). As for TV – there are projector screens and plasmas aplenty. Constantly showing some sporting event or other. Big footy matches, rugby and Gaelic sports, they even show horse racing for the daytime patrons. Get yourself in nice and early for a spot and it’s one of the better places to watch sports in town.
Decor: Been to a pub in Ireland? Like that…
Pub Games: A dartboard. Where, on New Years’ Eve about four or five years ago we watched a Polish man who could barely play throw a 180 with his first three darts by total fluke. Magical, it was. The dartboard even has an electronic scorer. There’s also a free jukebox with a decent selection too.
Price: Sub-£4 pints prompt few complaints.
Events: Music is a regular feature on the pub’s calendar. Diddly-dee.
Seating: Nothing dodgy to report. A decent mixture of comfortable chairs, pub stools, booths and sofas.
Toilets: A bit scruffy and puddle-y, but provided your plans don’t extend past number ones, you’re fine.
A favourite of Reading’s Irish contingent, this should really be on your list of boozy drop-ins too. Just as putting your mother’s cataract glasses on a man from your Baptist church doesn’t make him Bono, serving Guinness and stapling a green rugby shirt to the wall, doesn’t make a pub ‘Irish’. So sod O’Neill’s – head to The Gateway.