Good craic and great grub make this an excellent addition to Yas Island…

I celebrated my 21st birthday in a pub in Dublin. I remember this as I step into McCafferty’s Yas Island. In an instant, I’m back in that buzzing Irish bar: I can smell the smoky aroma, feel the sticky floors from spilled drinks, and almost see the merry patrons draped around each other, singing along to a band plays

None of this is the case at the Abu Dhabi iteration of Dubai’s beloved McCafferty’s. The floors are remarkably clean, the stage remains empty (we’re told live music starts later on, for now, the sounds of well-known Irish songs are belted out from a playlist), and thankfully the only scent that wafts through the air is from the kitchen. But it has that same instantly welcoming.

It comes, in part, from the authentic design. As first timers, we struggle to find the entrance, tucked on the ground floor of Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island. When we do find it, we immediately know we’re in the right place, thanks to a neat row of fake shop fronts in shades of rust and emerald that surround the entrance, their windows filled with neat trinkets illuminated by warm yellow lighting. Inside, the same traditional aesthetic continues. The double height ceiling is littered with antiques and artefacts, and walls are lined with posters and signs that feature iconic Irish sayings. Everything, we’re told, has been imported from Ireland, from the telephone box to the vintage pots and pans that hang from above.

We quickly see the same authenticity extends to the menu, where as much of the produce as possible is sourced from Ireland. We order from both the starter and mains sections, so we’re surprised when everything arrives together. We query it, but a friendly server advises us that this pub food comes out all together, so it can be enjoyed sharing style. Noted for next time.

The McCafferty’s fried chicken tenders (Dhs75) arrive as a generous portion of meaty, breadcrumbed chicken, deep friend and designed to be dunked in an accompanying trio of dips: smoky bbq, garlic mayo and sriracha. Then we move on to mains. The Irish pork belly burger (Dhs95) is packed with slow cooked pork belly, smoky bacon, black pudding, a fried egg and a zesty Ballymaloe relish. It’s greasy, meaty and deliciously indulgent. A proper fish and chips (Dhs99) also hits the spot, and lets quality ingredients do the talking. The fish is fresh and flakes apart effortlessly, the batter light and crunchy, and we’d love to get our hands on the recipe for the curry sauce served with our chunky chips.

Despite being immensely full, we can’t resist dessert and order the warm apple crumble (Dhs40), concluding things on a deliciously sweet note with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and a jug of warm, creamy custard.

Verdict: This stalwart Irish pub makes a strong entry into Abu Dhabi.

McCafferty’s, Hilton Abu Dhabi Yas Island, Yas Bay, daily 9am to 2am. Tel: (0)58 598 3623,