We were here tonight for a group get together over 30 members strong. A group with guests coming and going at all times, all to celebrate a friend leaving and wish her a farewell. I was one of the last to arrive, able to find free parking just half a block away. With two entrances you are able to walk right in and discover your party yourself.
I was impressed at their ability to accommodate this gathering between three awkwardly spaced tables. We were given a corner all our own. Shaped in a “U” pattern, this gave the most surface area available for seating. Though even with armed chairs pushed up close and up against one another side by side it was still a tight fit. With the on going World Cup, the television reflected its action and the walls were draped with flags in its honour. The rest of the empty wall space was decorated with sports pictures, local team memorabilia, and the occasional Irish note. “Kilts optional, Craic required”. “Come back for the craic”. Makes sense, “Craic” is Irish speak for a good time. And what other group loves a good time in a pub more?
For even more seclusion a specialty room could be reserved for a smaller group of ten or so, across two adjacent tables. This space more fancy, almost chic compared to the rest of this homey bar. The room was wallpapered in a patterned red with an equally ornate carpeting. Portraits in black and white photographed singers and musicians. I was only able to identify Bono from U2 with his trademark straw-like cowboy hat and wide lens sunglasses. The others I guessed performed as they held their tool of trade in hand, in picture. Today this room was reserved and signed for the “cougars”. Shame I left early and missed seeing this group.
Most of the staff working were female servers dressed in uniforms. A black pub branded tee sponsored by Alexander Keith’s and a short green plaid mini skirt. As far as uniforms go this was pretty flattering and cute. Our server in particular was pretty great. Skilled enough to serve a group this size, and patient enough to not get frustrated by our constant seat hopping. She even went over and beyond, climbing on a bar stool to help us snap four perfect group photos. And when it came to the menu she was extremely knowledgeable. A self proclaimed picky eater she was not shy to admit it. She gave strong recommendations of her favourites. So genuine and so compelling I took her suggestion of a salad. A salad from the seasonal “summer BBQ features” portion of the menu. This she was currently addicted to and has been inhaling in for days on end. I was going out on a limb here. As a practice I don’t order salad, finding most just the bringing together of ingredients that I too could do myself. Whereas when I dine out I rather get what I cannot make myself. And not only did she get me to order a salad, but she got me to order a salad at a pub. Two of my usual no no’s. There are some things I don’t like ordering, some specifically dependent on where I am eating, this is such an item. I need to mention here that she did not disappoint, nor did her suggestion, and neither did the salad.
“Seared Thai tuna salad”. Rare tuna seared with greens, cucumber, crispy noodles, cashews, and roasted red peppers dressed with a spicy soy lime dressing. Sweet, salty, tangy, crunchy, and zesty this salad had everything. So much flavour from its variety of dry and fresh ingredients, that depending on what mix you got with each stab of your fork, it changed with each bite. The tuna was perfectly cooked with enough slices to have an even fish to salad ratio, giving me fish in each mouthful. The crispy noodles gave things a good crunch, because I hate a soggy salad. The dressing with the red peppers created a nice light sweetness. I would definitely eat this again, but wouldn’t necessarily want to pay for it again.
Thinking a caesar is always a safe bet I ended up ordering the worst I have ever had. Despite its barely there spiced rim it still lacked flavour. It was watery, tasting like the bottom of the glass when all the ice has melted and you are left with water and a sip’s worth of tomato juice.
“Mac and Cheese sticks”. Made in house these pasta filled sticks are fried to a crisp. Evenly coated it meant each bite had batter that kept the noodles tender and the cheese they were held together with gooey. It’s true taste came from the spicy sriracha ketchup it was served with.
“Honey Garlic wings”. Pretty standard pub fare. These were over cooked and their lack of meat on bone made them dry and hard. Luckily the order was honey garlic and the sticky sauce did wonders in coating each wing with some sort of moisture. The other choices for wings included hot, ghost pepper, honey hot, Jamaican jerk, fresh ground salt and pepper, barbecue, garlic Parmesan, hot Thai, and spicy peanut. A list larger than other pubs.
“Crispy fish sandwich” made with two fillets of beer battered haddock, a Creole tartar sauce, a spicy pickle relish, raw red onions, and a mustard slaw; all in between a Portuguese bun. Accompanied by your choice of house salad, tomato basil soup or what my guest selected, hand cut Kennebec fries with ketchup. Just good, nothing more.
“California Flatbread” made with both fresh and sundried tomatoes, amber ale cheddar cheese, fresh avocado slices and a very aromatic basil. Simply put this was like a Margarita pizza but with avocado. Light and fresh it made for a great snack, but pretty boring.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – No.
The food was some of the better I have had at a bar. Not the best Irish bar, but certainly not the worst. Slightly above average, with the waitresses in school girl-like uniforms being the most memorable thing about them. And seeing as their downtown location is closing (or has closed, depending on when you read this), this is their next nearest location, in Kits. With a patio out front and ample parking nearby it already has its downtown sister location beat. Here they are able to accommodate a large party with enough seating and distance for smaller gatherings to be shielded from the noise and rowdy nature of a mob. And here we weren’t automatically charged a set gratuity penalty for having a party consisting of more than six. This was the first I have seen of its kind. As a solid place to grab a meal and a drink after work, or to socialize with friends in a sports friendly environment, don’t deny your cravings.