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Cheap Eats

A little Ireland in Hingham

(Tom Herde for The Boston Globe)
By Bella English
Globe Staff / April 7, 2010

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If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic spot, The Snug in historic Hingham is not the place for you. If you’re looking for good Irish pub food — and don’t mind high spirits — you’ll like it here.

And then there’s the pint. The Snug, which flies an Irish flag outside its door, calls itself the “Home of the Perfect Pint,’’ and it’s got awards to back up its claim. For a few years now, it has won the Guinness Gold Standard Award for a good pour of the famed stout. “It takes two and a half or three minutes to pour a perfect pint,’’ says Ed Brown, who with his wife, Ellen, bought this spot in 2002 and turned it into a charming pub.

The Snug lives up to its name. There are only a dozen tables and often a crowd, and a long, dark bar, with 14 beers on tap and a friendly Irish bartender who seems to know everyone.

We start with the Snug basket ($9.99), a typical fried feast: mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, fried shrimp, french fries. It’s fine, nothing greasy or over-battered. Ditto for the calamari ($10.99), which are fried with banana peppers for extra zing.

Clam chowder ($4.25 cup) is creamy with a good amount of clams. But we’re surprised when the pizza special ($8.95) arrives. It’s more like a caprese salad on bread, with layers of anemic tomato slices, mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. For the kids, who were expecting a hot pie, it’s disappointing.

When fish and chips ($15.99) arrive, all is forgiven. Perfectly cooked haddock has a nice firmness and crunch; it comes with fries and slaw with just a hint of mayonnaise. Chip Flaherty, a Snug regular, describes his favorite dish as “a cardiac bungee jump,’’ and the real thing. “The only difference between here and Ireland is that it’s not wrapped in brown paper.’’

A flavorful tilapia special ($11.95) is Parmesan-crusted and accompanied by a mound of thick mashed potatoes and green beans. Steak tips ($13.99) are billed as “everyone’s favorite,’’ and it’s easy to see why. They’re marinated in a sweet bourbon barbecue sauce, grilled just right, and accompanied by two sides.

Ellen’s homemade shepherd’s pie (pictured, $11.99) is her family’s recipe from Mayo: a pleasing comfort dish with layers of ground beef and corn topped with a peaky mashed potato crust. It’s served with a piece of grilled Irish soda bread.

Desserts aren’t made on the premises, but there’s a yummy turtle cheesecake ($4.95) and, on special, chocolate cake with layers of whipped cream laced with a little Bailey’s ($4.95).

On weekends, breakfast is served, including the traditional Irish plate ($10.95) of eggs, bangers, rashers, black and white blood pudding, grilled tomato, and Irish soda bread.

Four nights a week, there’s music, including a traditional Irish session on Mondays. But Brown is proudest these days of a new distinction: The Snug has been chosen as the only local launching site for the famed Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale. It’s now on tap.

THE SNUG

116 North St., Hingham

781-749-9774. All major credit cards accepted.

One step up at entrance.

Prices Appetizers $4.25-$10.99. Entrees $11.99-$15.99. Desserts $4.25.

Hours Mon-Thu 11:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m.; Sat-Sun 9 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.

Liquor Full bar.

May we suggest Fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, steak tips, Irish breakfast.