Address: 570 Hillsborough Rd, Lynfield
Ph: (09) 626 0640
Stop me if you've heard this one. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three times in this column where I've had a massive whinge about plastic-Paddy pubs ripping off Irish heritage to flog a few pints.
I can also think of a few disparaging comments I have made about the Doolan Brothers franchise in particular, so you can imagine my horror when I metaphorically stuck a pin in a map and sentenced myself to more downtime with the Doolans.
This time it was the imposing branch that sits off Hillsborough Rd in the almost-forgotten suburb of Lynfield, and I was sighing dramatically before I even got to the front door.
Boy, was I in for a shock.
Inside it seems even bigger than it does from the outside, if such a thing is possible. It stretches Tardis-like across what appears to be a much larger floor area than the frontage would suggest, and you almost expect to hear your voice echoing as though you're in a cathedral.
It was almost with a sense of trepidation that I approached the bar, where I was met by a perfectly friendly and affable Englishman, who greeted me cheerfully. He vouched for the Guinness, so I ordered one and, though it wasn't the best I've tasted, it was perfectly drinkable.
It being a hot day, I then looked for something a little lighter and the Emerson's 1812 was recommended. It was good, too. Fresh, firm and with a nice hoppy forthrightness that suited the weather perfectly.
The wine list was more than passable, too, with a few surprising selections, and the spirit range was everything you'd hope for in a suburban pub.
The food looked great, well presented and keenly priced, but it was the service and the atmosphere that really got me. It was like a pub in the UK or Ireland, with friendly staff - the manager came out and talked me into joining the loyalty scheme, something I never do - and a relaxed air.
The big-screen tellies were quiet, there were no pokies and the music was of a volume that allowed conversation, unlike some other branches of this chain I've been in.
Considering I'd never been to Lynfield for a beer before, I was oddly charmed by it all. Now I really must start getting the best out of my loyalty card.