Sean's Irish Pub - Taipei Gets a Touch of the Irish
It is hard to believe that Taipei's Westin Hotel on Nanking East Road has been open only a little more than a year. Thanks to a central location, spacious design and good management, the Westin has quickly established itself in the minds of the local foreign community as one of the best places to meet up for a drink after work.
Rumours had been around since early last year that an Irish pub was on the drawing boards and originally it had intended to open its doors in the middle of the year but the inevitable delays occurred. In the meantime the management of the Westin slowly built up their client base among expats. First the Australian and New Zealanders took the opportunity to move their monthly happy hours to the Westin and they were quickly followed by the Canadians and now the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei.
Because of the delay, these happy hours were, for a period, housed in the 1st floor bar adjacent to Danielli's Italian restaurant. These evenings were so successful that it was with some fear and trepidation that the organizers agreed to move down to the basement and to the location originally intended for them. Any fears were unfounded, in the space of two short month's Sean's has established itself as a favored watering hole in the heart of Taipei's central business district.
OK so there are probably very few pubs in Ireland that look as good as Seans. This is, after all, a five star hotel we are talking about. But as theme pubs go, it seems to work. The fact that the bar has three of Ireland's most popular brews on tap (Kilkenny, Harp and of course Guinness) no doubt has something to do with it as does the "bill of fayre" which includes such staples as a genuine Irish Stew, Oyster Pie, Fish and Chips and an all day breakfast selection.
According to pub boss Randy Hsu, Taipei had never before had a real Irish-style pub (though watch out Randy, some of Taipei's old pub hands have been brewing up some competition for some time now) and was ready for a new "theme". Seans was modelled after Dublin Jacks in Hong Kong and targets the expatriate business community and local Chinese who enjoy the ambiance of western style taverns.
Seating is provided for 170 patrons and Seans offers both set business lunches as well as set dinners. À-la-carte is also available. The set lunch is priced at NT$600 and includes salad or soup, a choice of main courses and choice of deserts - including cheesecake and an Irish whiskey trifle. The set dinners are NT$1,000 per person and includes an appetizer as well as coffee or tea.
Chief barman Oswald Lin, ex-American Club presides over the horseshoe bar and aside from the beer on tap, Oswald and his cohorts can offer a wide selection of international beers, some of which you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere in Taipei. The bar offers a fine range of Irish (and other) whiskies as well as some special Irish cocktails. The Irish Spring a mixture of Irish whiskey and peach liquor is the recommended choice although Oswald admits that overall, the Margarita remains the most sought after cocktail drink. Prices are reasonable by Taipei standards though watch out at Happy Hours. Although the staff will tell you it is 2 for 1 on beers, wine and spirits during happy hours, they omitted to tell us that this did not apply to the draft beer!
For those in a party mood, you can (for a price) have your cocktail served to you in the barber's chair. The staff will gather round and deliver your drink of choice while singing "Happy Birthday" or whatever else fits the occasion. What better gift could you offer your business buddy for his birthday? Admittedly, he might feel differently (but by the time you get around to the barber's chair neither of you should be feeling any pain).
The bar area also features a large screen projection television for weekend sports events as well as a dance floor and platform for a live band that is rumoured to be appearing after the new year.
Any complaints? Well, the staff could probably do with a little more training and at times working out the bar bills can become more than a little confusing. While 60% of the bar patrons are foreigners, getting your message across in English can require patience at times. Oh and the bar suffers from one other problem common to many such establishments in Taipei - the bar staff often appear to spend more time talking to each other than attending to their patrons. Here Seans is no orphan. If only wait staff would actually LOOK at the patrons they might sell more drinks and prevent customers passing out through dehydration.
Yet, really these are no more than blisters on the heel. Given the Westin's fine tradition of service they are problems that will be quickly overcome.
Sean's Irish Pub
B1, Taipei Westin Hotel, Nanking East Road, Section 3
Opening Hours: 11:30 am - 1 am
11:30 am - 2:30pm Lunch
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm Happy Hour
6:30 pm - 9:30pm Dinner
9:30pm - 1am Snack time