If you thought for a second – like I did – that “Thundercut Alley” was the name of some dystopian highway plucked from a Philip K Dick or William Gibson novel, think again: Thundercut Alley was a laneway linking Queen Street and Smithfield, believed to have derived its name in some manner from the Thunders brewing family, and which ceased to exist when this part of Smithfield fell to progress and was redeveloped at the start of the century. (It was replaced with a curving walkway between newly-built apartment buildings).
I only found this out after my visit, with DCC’s “Vanishing Dublin” web portal providing some cursory information. To be honest, I preferred my initial assumption that some paleofuturistic image had inspired the name, rather than the default option of identifying with an old Dublin thing. It’s forgivable though, because it is an exceptionally cool sounding name, and would rank high on Dublin’s list of bodacious street alongside Lazer Lane, Misery Hill and Tranquility Grove.
The small space is dark and secluded enough to remove you from the tedium of the developer’s concrete outside and suck you into a new world though, and it’s a world where flatbreads and cocktails dominate. It’s a sort of Back to the Future Part II equivalent of Eddie Rockets, with booths and bar seating for gang or date congregations, and the sassy, kitsch sloganeering on the walls replaced with tasteless graffiti of cartoon tits, cartoon bass players and an aggressively animated Pacman.
But in my dystopian Smithfield fantasy I can forgive this, largely on the strength of their cocktails. Despite fighting a losing battle with a faltering smoking-gun device, the staff serve up a tasty Smoked Red Maple – a variation on the Old Fashioned – and a Yellow Hammer (€11 each), which featured a toasted slice of white peach topping off the Jameson Black Barrel-based mix. Both were boozy and tasty in the right balance and a resounding success. Myself and my accomplice switch up for the next round and the Bundy’s Daquiri (named after Al? After Ted?) and Cuban Tremendo (each €10) fare slightly less well, with the latter’s combination of pistachio and white chocolate sounded tempting, but tasting a bit confusing.
I would have eaten a flatbread, had I not eaten a hoagie in Gutterball, through which you have to pass to enter Thundercut Alley. (Note: It is not a requirement to eat a hoagie to enter the bar). This bowling themed snackerie dishes out tasty, messy sambos that do not leave that emptiness in your soul that eating a Subway would. Sitting near the door in either establishment, their music clashes awkwardly, just as their completely bonkers, OTT aesthetics do. I’m charitably aligning it so some kind of post-modern tech-dissonance, rather than just having no taste whatsoever, because I was very well fed and watered by these conjoined establishments.
Thundercut Alley (and Gutterball)
Smithfield Market Square, Smithfield, Dublin 7
Words: Ian Lamont
Photos: Killian Broderick