I take solace in Irish bars. They are like going to Denny’s for breakfast, I go in not so much expecting an amazing experience, but I usually find a pleasant atmosphere and a satisfying time. When I’m in a neighborhood I’m not too familiar with, faced with choices of drinking venues, I always default to the Irish bar. I know what to expect, and I’m comfortable there. They are used to people like me.
The other day, after spending a few productive hours at the Boston Public Library, I found myself in Copley Square. There was an accident on the Green Line that day (my kind of luck) and I wasn’t inclined to cram myself onto the shuttle bus that replaced it. I was hungry, a bit aggravated, and had no place particular to be for a while. Which brings me to Clerys.
Clerys is on the corner of Dartmouth and Columbus. If it was on the other side of Columbus, it would be in the South End, but, alas, we are still in the Back Bay. I don’t know if I would call Clerys an “upscale place” but it is pretty nice. I like the big windows, open on nice days, there is some nice people watching along Dartmouth Street.
I find Irish bars comforting because there is a sameness to them. There is nothing that makes Clerys really stand out from a standard Irish bar, due probably to the fact that this it one of those dreaded corporate-branded bars, but that is OK. The menu is standard pub fare, but the food is quite good, well prepared and with fresh ingredients. The french fries are quite good, and the philly spring rolls are my favorite thing on the menu. You can’t really go wrong with the burgers and sandwiches. They have a lobster quesadilla on the menu. Lobster isn’t really my thing, but it is something different. Again, nothing outstanding or really unexpected on the menu, but everything is pretty good.
The crowd is a bit more diverse than you might imagine. Clerys is, at the end of the day, a neighborhood bar, and they take a bit of pride in that. Given that we are two steps away from the South End, the crowd seems like a pretty good representation of the local population. Clerys is also two steps away from Back Bay Station, so there are always people wandering in pulling their luggage as well. Every time I go there, a sports team of some sort shows up, which might be pleasing to you if you enjoy drinking with sweaty men in soccer jerseys. The yuppies are also pretty prevalent here, which can be mildly annoying at times, for me at least.
The service was fast, friendly and efficient. The bartender was engaging and happy to talk about the beer selection, the menu, and the Mets game. They kept up with the orders and greeted a good number of regulars while I was there.
The beer selection was pretty standard, typical of these corporate places, but there was enough variety to keep me happy. I do wish they had a better TV setup at the bar, as I didn’t see a really good spot anywhere to settle down and watch the game.
Clerys is a fine, if somewhat standard, neighborhood Irish bar. The location is great, and the service outstanding. When I’m around, and I need a little comfort, I’ll be back.
113 Dartmouth Street, Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 262-9874