Good evening, ladies and gents, and welcome back to Finbar – my new favorite watering hole in the entire world. As I write this review, I’m actually sitting in Finbar again on a balmy tropical night, and just had the chance to interview one of the owners, a young British woman named Lara, for about an hour.
So, instead of me rambling on and on about how cold the beer is and how they’re playing great music (their playlist is ranging from Jack Johnson to Amy Winehouse, Tracey Chapman to Motown right now), let me break down three unique features of Finbar.
Again, this is just three of the many many things that make Finbar a special place, but they’re deserving of their own spotlight.
1. All of the food in Finbar is homemade.
Their chef and original owner (he’s since moved back to Ireland) set up an incredible menu featuring fresh, organic, and homemade ingredients. Their goal was to bridge normal western bar food and local Filipino food, but by bringing out the best in both. They’ve definitely done that, especially since everything on the menu is made from scratch right on site. They feature amazing pasta dishes, sweet potato fries, triple-cooked English chips (called “Proper Fries” on the menu), one of the best 100% beef burgers you’ll get in the Philippines (on a homemade bun etc.), pizzas with eclectic and fun ingredients, Korean barbecue wings that are BOMB, and a surprising array of deserts, many of them infused with booze and all of them good. But one of my favorites is the homemade Haloumi mozzarella cheese, which only costs $1 for the appetizer and is perfectly grilled.
2. The booze is next level.
We’ve all had run of the mill vodka, gin, and rum, and even high-end western spirits or the local firewaters may suffice, but can’t be considered special. Well, Finbar blows your normal bar menu out of the water with their own lineup of infused spirits all made on site. Their secret recipe concoctions come from a lot of suggestions but customers and staff playing mad scientist. There are too many of their incredible Franken-spirits to mention, but they include butterscotch vodka, salted caramel vodka, jalapeno tequila, cucumber and jalapeno gin, chili and chocolate rum, and the volcano-fire black pepper rum. In case that’s not good enough for you, they make their own Baileys! Wow!
3. Craft brew
They even have their own craft brew, which is made locally with a Norwegian who’s lived here in the Philippines for a very long time and brews his own craft beers, called Birdie Num Num (love that name!). Tapping into his Viking roots, they’ve named the special Finbar brew Finbeer Lambay Stout after Lambay Island, which is the first place in Ireland where the Vikings landed. And this brew would definitely satisfy even the thirstiest Viking, as it tastes like half a Guinness with some wood spice and Jalapeno blended in! Incredible – and not too heavy (which is good for drinking in the heat of the jungle).
But don’t just take my word for it: although they’ve been open only a little more than one year, Finbar is already the #1 restaurant/bar on Tripadvisor…not just in Dauin…not only in Dumaguete…but on the whole island of Negros! That’s insane, and well deserved!