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So you're about to see someone get a bit sniffy..

O'Neills, sitting proudly in the centre of Bournemouth is one of the busier live music venues in the area and you can expect to see a series of local acts together with some from further out.

O'Neills Bournemouth

It's a big big place with a good sized bar at the front. This is pretty much what you'd expect when looking from the front but enter the back rooms and you'll find a myriad of chambers in which to enjoy the bought in ambiance. They have a really large (for a town centre venue) outside area and some good tables from where to enjoy a pint and some food (more of which later).

Let's get this straight. O'Neills is not an Irish pub. It is an Irish THEMED pub. In fact it's part of a chain - Mitchell and Butlers - based in the West Midlands. Now I have an interest in this because my Granny was Nana O'Neill - nuff said.

M&B's retail stylists have packed as much faux oirish into the place as they can possibly get and to be frank this grates mightily. If there'd been a bit of it then fine but there's just too much. In fact the plasticery almost suggests that the stylists have never visited the south side.

Sadly the downsides of being in a chain don't end there. The beer selection is just about OK but mainly what you would expect but the food in my experience is woeful. Upon sending back a plate of pretty rough fare one of the staff even admitted that they 'get this all the time'. What a shame.

The one saving grace for O'Neills is that the marketing department has made them put on live bands and this is a feature of the chain. Good luck with finding out who they've booked though.

On the plus side the staff bear all of this with good grace and when watching a band on a particularly busy night will also offer waiter/ess service which is a really useful touch. I've always found them to be the jewel in an otherwise tarnished crown so I'm giving them 10/10 for that.

Overall the impression is really of a place that has all of the assets to make a really good go of it. My opinion though is that they need less chain and more local.


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