While one can see some original fixtures like the bar, chandeliers and wall mirrors that speak to a previous incarnation of a pub - the Sticky Wicket presently offers a lowest common denominator experience that every other room in the Strathcona seems to share (with the exception of Big Bad Johns, which remains one of the best-value drinking holes in Victoria).
We ordered a pint of Guinness and a pint of Kilkenny, and when the Guinness came in less than 20 seconds we knew that although we were seated at the bar - something was amiss. Clearly the bartender cared more about watching the game on the massive big screens than properly pouring a Guinness (which should take about a minute to do). I could understand if it was smoking busy, but there were only a handful of customers at the bar, all of whom were nursing relatively full drinks.
The former ambiance (I do remember when the Sticky Wicket was more pub-like back in the 90s) has been washed out by the light pollution of big screen TVs on all sides, which have rendered the Sticky Wicket's most authentic room a clash of cultures (if UK football was screened it would be much more tolerable than NBA and fight night). The other rooms no longer connect to the bar area in terms of aesthetic flow - and without the link to the heritage aspects around the bar, have the feel of a family restaurant - like a Denny's if Denny's had a bit more budget for wood fixtures.
Speaking of Denny's - I guess the decorum in the other main L-shaped room is appropriate, given the sad decline of food at the Sticky Wicket (although friends who grew up here have said the food has always been of a low calibre). The pub natchos were drab compared to other Victoria restaurants, which is pretty bad because quality pub natchos are a tall order in this city for some reason.
Value for the money? Meh. The "pints" we ordered were served in "sleeves" (I think bar staff should specify when customers order "pints" that they only serve beer in smaller sleeve glasses) - so instead of $7.50 like at Irish Times for a true 500 ml pint of Guinness, we paid $5.50 for what was surely less than 400 ml. I suspect these sleeves were designed to hold a 355ml can of beer. The food, however, costs about the same as any other pub in town - and is thus not good value for the money.
I guess the transition to a "something-for-everybody" sort of philosophy has worked for the Strathcona marketing strategy, but it's sapped the cultural experience out of what used to be a nice room. You'd think the sports-bar thing could have been left to the Clubhouse and rooftop venue and games room. I assume when Irish Times opened much of their clientele seeking a more authentic UK pub experience shifted over, with Smiths Pub and The Bard & Banker hammering the final nails in the coffin.
As we left, American cock-rock started blaring over a PA system as a final reminder as to why we won't come back.