Saturday, June 10, 2006

Watching Soccer in Portland: Kells

I've been to Kells maybe three or four times over the last ten years; my impression was that it was an okay place but perhaps a bit on the upscale side for the likes of me, as far as pubs go. It's one of those American "Irish" pubs that fails to actually resemble any pub I've ever been to in Ireland. But when our first choice for the World Cup opener, Horse Brass, turned out to be closed at 9 am, we thought we'd check Kells out.

I ended up liking it a lot. They have two small widescreen monitors above the bar and a huge screen down at one end. The place was packed, so plan ahead; Lisa arrived around 8:30, stood in line outside, and ended up wtih a table near the back, and plenty were standing. A good, enthusiastic, international crowd turned up, with supporters of both sides (and some neutrals cheering for everyone). The friendly staff was unfazed by the turnout and handled it with aplomb; they served up beer to those dedicated enough to get started at 9 am (and there were plenty of takers) but were happy to let us linger for hours over nothing more than coffee till we ordered some lunch near noon. They were also savvy enough to make an attempt to switch over to Setanta (unsuccessfully--audio problems) for the second match in order to spare us all the painful banter of American commentators--don't get me wrong, I'm grateful the games are shown here at all, but do we really need to be told things like "Soccer is a game you play with your feet--you can't use your hands"? (Luckily, Tommy Smyth and Adrian Healey had taken over, and I know there are people who dislike them but at least they know something about the game.)

Kells' biggest drawback is its prices (breakfast and lunch mostly in the $7-$10 range without beverages, pints of Guinness a whopping $5.50); however, I enjoyed watching the match there enough that I'll be back at some point in spite of the cost.

Check their webpage to keep current on what matches they're showing throughout the year and on whether or not there is a cover charge (and no cover if you can show an Irish passport, so dig out your grandparents' birth certificates and get yourself naturalized).

Go here for our previous review of soccer-watching at the Marathon.


Torrid said...

I went by the new Thirsty Lion, caddy corner to Kells where the old Bar 71 was, Friday for lunch and Poland v Ecuador. They have a much better setup for watching games--3 large plasmas hung over the sides of the bar, plus a second bar-row table on either side for more TV-view seating. They're even more expensive than Kells, but for watching the Cup it's a pretty good scene.

Lynda said...

Cool, that's good to know--we are planning on checking them out at some point. Thanks!