Real Irish near Fenway
Having recently returned from Dublin, I was anxious to try the food at the new Lansdowne Pub, which bills itself as an authentic Irish bar and restaurant. Would it have the same feel as several pubs I hit in the Emerald Isle? Would the food be real Irish? Moreover, could they pull a good pint of Guinness?
It did, it was, and they could.
Except for the fact that The Lansdowne is spiffier than most Dublin pubs, it feels real, from the “snugs’’ (cozy drinking rooms) to the expertly pulled Guinness to the delicious shepherd’s pie. The only thing missing is Gaelic football on TV (the Sox rule on the flat screens here).
Located in the old Jake Ivory’s, The Lansdowne is Patrick Lyons’s latest debut on the food scene. With partners Steve Coyle and Ed Sparks, Lyons wanted to create a casual, lively venue that features Irish comfort food. The 64-foot bar was built by craftsmen in County Longford, the antiques and knick knacks come from County Lough, the furniture from Northern Ireland.
We start with the Irish sliders (below; $9), three juicy mini-burgers topped with Irish bacon and gooey cheddar on good little rolls - delicious and decadent. Warm cheese dip with homemade potato chips ($7) is another excellent choice: salty, crisp chips dipped in a creamy blue cheese dip are addictive.
We pass on hand-cut fries topped with mushy peas ($3 or $5) - or several other toppings - and head right for the entrees. A Guinness beef pot pie ($13) is hearty fare: stew beef with peas, carrots, and onions, a tad heavy on the salt. The bland crust is perfect for dipping. It’s served with homemade brown bread.
A lovely blanket of mashed potatoes on shepherd’s pie ($12) is creamy but crispy brown. It lies atop braised lamb with carrot chunks adding some sweetness.
It sounds boring (they should rename it), but mixed greens salad ($12) is layered with bits of Irish bacon, warm pear, plump shrimp, and best of all, a crusty-and-creamy goat cheese fritter.
For dessert, we go with the fried Twinkie ($4), akin to fried dough, and the Bailey’s chocolate pot ($6), which contains unexciting chocolate and comes with two oatmeal cookies.
Despite the size of the place - it seats 160 - the Lansdowne’s brick walls, pretty lighting, stamped tin ceiling, and gas-lit fireplaces give it a warmth. There’s live music Thursday through Sunday, and Irish breakfast on weekends. During the season, Premier League and Champions League soccer games are on the screens.
Photos of Ireland’s greatest writers, including Behan, Joyce, Swift, and Shaw are framed on a back wall. Behan, who liked to say he was “a drinker with a writing problem,’’ would doubtless approve of the 12 beers on tap and additional 33 in the bottle.