Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Restaurant Review: The Dubliner

The Dubliner…it’s named after a James Joyce collection of short stories, so you know it’s legit.
About a block from the Union Station metro, I wasn't surprised to find this establishment filled with your typical staffer-types. However, the food here was a cut above other after-work watering holes.
Of course, as at any bar, you have your standard American fare. But if you’re looking for food that’s interesting but still universally palatable, try their Irish cuisine. Their “Dubliner favorites” and specialties are well-executed Anglo-Saxon standards like fish and chips, Sheppard’s Pie and Beef Stew.
I found one especially delicious take on American cuisine was the Guinness burger. The concept is fairly simple: ground sirloin marinated in Guinness. The Dubliner serves it up on a potato pancake, and tops it with a cheese sauce that’s allegedly Welsh in some capacity. At $14 it’s a little expensive for a restaurant burger, but it definitely gets a must-try vote.
Not all the entrees are winners, though. “Irish Garden Pasta,” a dish of mixed veggies and pasta in tomato sauce, is a bit of a sub-par concept that just seems like a poor attempt to add a vegetarian option to the menu. Corned beef with cabbage? Well, maybe that’s an acquired taste. It’s traditional, alright…but doesn’t help the reputation of Irish cuisine.

I can't say the concept of breakfast at the Dubliner excited me either. From a cursory review of their breakfast menu, it seems to be a bunch of standard breakfast fare given an “Irish-y” names.
The Dubliner also offers a late night menu, which is restaurant code for “food for drunk people.” It’s available Sunday and Monday (11pm-midnight), and slightly later Tuesday through Saturday (11 to 1am). All late night menus are limited, but disappointingly the Dubliner’s late night menu lacks all of their interesting, signature dishes. Then again, if you’re looking for a hearty meal at 12:30am, maybe you don’t care as much about culinary complexity.
Drinks here are fairly standard in price and selection. From my experience, the drink to get here is Guinness. It’ll set you back $6, but the skill of the pour makes it worth it. For the uninitiated, the trick is to let the Guinness “rest,” or settle before topping off the draft and serving. It makes a huge difference in the flavor of the beer. So if you order a Guinness and the bartender says “It’ll be 5 minutes,” he’s not being rude. It’s the sign you’re about to get a great Guinness!
Other than a great Guinness pour, the other big draw here is the live music. It starts nightly at 9pm, and it’s a rousing Irish good time. I don't exactly follow the Irish music scene, and have yet to recognize a band name—but if you’re interested, their website does list upcoming artists.
My final verdict? Yes for lunch and dinner, no for breakfast and late night menu. Your best bet is to go for a late dinner and then stick around for some live music and a few pints of Guinness. It’s very metro convenient, so it’s an ideal starting point for your night. The lively music scene also makes it good for “one destination only” evenings.

Dubliner Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

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