Eyes are smiling in this Irish pub
If you have an image in your mind of what a cheery Irish pub should look like, Mr. Dooley’s in Cohasset fits the bill. A big mahogany bar, numerous local and international beers on tap, Guinness signs everywhere, and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel like staying a while.
We lingered on a recent Saturday night when the house was packed and the noise level- even without live music - was approaching conversation-halting volumes. Still, the neighborhood feel of this brand-new pub made it feel like the popular gathering spot for young and old that it is likely to become. Members of our party of four ran into old friends from Cohasset High School, as well as acquaintances from neighboring towns.
Our first choice was the Mr. Dooley’s Combo Platter ($16), which layered chicken fingers on top of potato skins on top of onion rings on top of nachos and was served with an attractive quartet of dipping sauces: salsa, blue cheese, honey mustard, and sour cream. Everything, especially the nachos and potato skins, was quite tasty and the platter generous enough to make me worry how I would be game for the next course.
I needn’t worry. The clam chowder ($5/cup) was tasty and creamy and while a little heavy on the potatoes, could have been a meal in itself another day. The side salad ($6) was crisp, fresh, and loaded with fresh tomatoes, onions, and cukes.
Yes, this Mr. Dooley’s is kin to the downtown Boston stalwart of the same name, a local institution that has drawn the financial industry crowd for more than 20 years for its pub fare and entertainment. The owners also have several other restaurants in their portfolio including The Green Dragon on Marshall Street in Boston, near Faneuil Hall.
While this location is probably too young to have earned a specialty on its own, the Guinness-marinated steak tips ($20) look to be an early favorite. They were cooked to order and served with a healthy medley of late-summer veggies.
The shepherd’s pie ($14), recommended by our server as a favorite, was a wee bit bland, but “nothing a little Worcestershire sauce couldn’t fix,’’ according to one in our party who doused it in said sauce and happily finished the whole thing.
For me, the frustrating thing about traditional Irish pub fare is making a choice. I agonized over the mixed grill ($14), ale-battered fish and chips ($14), or bangers and mash ($14), all of which looked tempting coming out of the kitchen. So I picked the fiesta salad ($12) , featuring grilled chicken and cheddar cheese and served in a tortilla bowl. An offbeat choice from a place specializing in Irish comfort food, but it was fresh and satisfying.
From the limited dessert choices, we picked red velvet cake ($7) and were not disappointed.
One of the most impressive things about this addition to the local restaurant scene is that it looks and feels like it’s been there forever. While there are no guarantees in the fickle restaurant business, Mr. Dooley’s Old Irish Village Pub in the tiny village of Cohasset is off to a promising start.