Finally!!! A Place To Call "Our" Irish Pub

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Andrew and I honeymooned in Ireland back in 2004. To say we well in love with the country is one of the biggest understatements, and another blog entirely. Just one of the many aspects we enjoyed with the pub was the atmosphere: a warm, inviting haven against the rain and cold outside where you can sit by the fire with a pint of Guinness and enjoy a beautiful lamb stew. It's heaven. And the definition of comfort food.

Back east had its pick of authentic Irish pubs. New Haven in Connecticut alone had about five to choose from. Boston, New York - I don't have to say they were totally legit. But since moving back to California we've missed the pub experience greatly, and can't seem to find a place to call our own.

Until last weekend...

I'm constantly searching for new places to explore. The pub of choice in the area is always Muldoon's in Newport Beach. Muldoon's is not a pub; it's a restaurant bar. And let me tell you why:

A real pub has authentic irish and british ales on tap - Muldoon's only has a small selection.
A real pub has a dark and dingy atmosphere - Muldoon's is too bright and the outside courtyard, although pleasant in spring and summer, is just not "pub."
By definition a pub must have (a) darts; (b) old wooden tables and booths hidden in the forgotten corners; and (c) friendly staff. Muldoon's has darts and patio seating.
And probably the biggest knock on the non-pubness of Muldoon's? - the fact it's not open on Mondays (Monday Night Football people!) and doesn't offer Premiership games on early Sunday mornings for those of us who are children of parents who would die for the sport of "real football."

We did find a great pub though that has come pretty damn close: Durty Nelly's in Costa Mesa.

They have Irish bands that play:

And check out that dark wood and stained glass interior! Although I admit the shamrocks are a bit over the top, it's still better than patio seating.

And they have ale:

And an ok Shepherd's Pie:

And Fish & Chips made with cod:

Ok, the food is actually rather terrible. The cod was frozen, the "chips" aren't thicker chip cut that's traditional in the UK - it's your standard American fry and the cole slaw tasted like it came from Costco. Andrew's Shepherd's Pie didn't fare that much better, but I give them points for using ground lamb and not beef, and using the mashed potatoes only as a topper - not like most places that have the mashed completely overtake the stewy goodness underneath.
But the atmosphere was right. Dark, dingy and extremely friendly service. Decent selection of Celtic libations and they have live music and even karaoke on saturday nights. Actually, it's quite the destination for karaoke apparently. And it was packed with locals. Not the usual OC crowd of La Diva clad ladies with bejeweled tops adorning their fake boobs and men with $500 jeans and cheap cologne. No, this was a local's locale - jeans, sweater, and a big wooden table to rest your pint on.
And I miss that. I'm glad I found it.

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