Some things just seem to fit. They can seem natural and not at all surprising, as if they were designed. We talk all the time about people being meant for each other, about a career that fits us like a glove, or about parenting as something we were built for. We all want to belong and to feel like we do – I’d argue its a basic human need. Communities have things that just seem to fit as well. Like bikes, students, and mediocre pizza, some things just seem to belong in Davis. Most Davisites would include good food, and by extension, good restaurants to the list of things that just seem to belong here.
And yet there are always those things that don’t really seem to belong either. Most folks are familiar with the revolving door of establishments that have tried their hand at the 217 E Street location and didn’t quite seem to belong there. When the rumors began swirling months ago that de Vere’s Irish Pub was considering moving in, there was considerable excitement from all sorts of different people who seemed to think the place would be a good fit on E Street and in Davis. People I talked to were excited about the menu, the whiskey selection, the pub atmosphere and vibe, and most mentioned how nice it would be to have something stable at that location.
After taking in lunch and a beer at de Vere’s a few days ago, I think we can safely say that revolving door has stopped. I had watched with interest as this place began to take shape over the past few weeks, and I even stood entranced on the sidewalk as the scents of stained wood filled E Street. Looking forward to trying it out, I managed to find an Irish guy in Davis and took him out to lunch – I figured I’d want the full effect.
Walking into de Vere’s is immediately like walking into something that just seems to fit. The dark wood and soft lighting, the library sitting area, the couches and cozy tables, even the bar all just seem to beckon you by suggesting you belong there. I’ll leave the official decor writers to do their work, but for me, de Vere’s hits their target with atmosphere. Looking over the menu, it would seem that belongs just as it is as well. A mix of traditional Irish fare and pub grub, the menu probably isn’t going to strike anyone as unique and daring, but that doesn’t seem to be intent. The food and the atmosphere certainly go together well and were clearly designed for just such a purpose.
The bar is simply beautiful, but not quite as beautiful as the whiskey selection. I realize this is a beer blog, but I wouldn’t do it or myself justice without noting that there are libations in front of that mirror you can’t get elsewhere in Davis and for Scotch drinkers, this place is a welcome addition to the paltry scene in Davis.
Oddly enough for a pub, if there was one thing I was disappointed in, it was the beer selection. You don’t run an Irish pub without the standard Guinness, Harp, Bass, and Smithwick’s from across the pond. But the other beers that rounded out the beer menu were, for my taste, decidedly uninspired. To be fair, like the menu, I don’t think de Vere’s is trying to be that place where you get to try really unique beers. The place has a more solid, traditional feel to it than that, so I wouldn’t expect all sorts of funky ales to be poured from those taps. What was disappointing to me was that they could have had a little more fun. If the Irish are known for their stouts, put something elegant on tap along side of Guinness and add a unique porter as well. Include more amber ales, more belgians, and throw in something with rye for fun. And above all, don’t just give us the safe, obvious examples of beers that fit with all that dark wood. de Vere’s doesn’t have to be that place with 50 beers on tap, many of which most people wouldn’t like, but I had hoped it would at least get a little creative with its beer selection. I ended up pacing the bar a few times trying to find something I wanted to drink, hoping there was a tap I hadn’t noticed yet, but settling in with beer I’d order pretty much anywhere else.
It is certainly possible that the beer selection is safe precisely because they just opened. I suppose that would make some sense – let the food and the atmosphere do most of the talking. But when putting the word “pub” in your name, beer becomes an essential part of the atmosphere, and I found the selection at de Vere’s lacking – at least initially. Based on that whiskey selection, the atmosphere, and the delicious lunch, I most certainly will be back and will encourage my friends to give it a shot as well. de Vere’s undoubtedly belongs on E Street – it just fits in Davis and is a welcome addition to the downtown scene. But as a beer drinker, I’m hoping for more beer that is worthy and belongs at the taps of that gorgeous bar.