In some ways, the Corrib Pub is the most old-fashioned place I've been to in a long while, a throwback to the type of bar where--please excuse me for this-- everybody knows your name.
Here is a place where simple drinks are simply poured. You won't find a frou-frou specialty drink menu; there's no pomegranate syrup or chocolate shavings. What you will find, however, is an incredibly fresh and effervescent Guinness, or Harp, or Bass from the tap, perfect black & tans, and solid mixed drinks.
There are clear upsides to the vintage vibe, beginning, first and foremost, with the prices. It's the rare entree that tops $12, and the bill for a low-key date night could stay under $25, even with a beer or two.
Then there was our waiter, Rick, who was mightily efficient but still willing to stop and chat, making us feel at home. According to Rick, the pub does get busy, particularly on weekends. A full wall forms an ingenious separation between the bar and the sit-down booths, keeping the restaurant quiet no matter who's at the bar.
But the kitchen seems to operate in an earlier era where overcooking was the norm. (I once saw a 1950s recipe for carrots that gave the instructions to boil carrots for an hour--no wonder some of us didn't like carrots growing up.) At our meal, chicken was overcooked, and steak that had been ordered rare came back well-done. Even the penne underneath our chicken piccata had been boiled to the point of mushiness, though the pleasantly lemony sauce, loaded with capers, helped salvage the dish.
Mild-mannered scrod stole the show during our visit, swimming in a baking dish of butter, and cloaked in stringy, melted cheese and panko crumbs.
Entrees come with a fresh green salad or soup--we tasted the chicken barley soup, which was loaded with salt--and then invariably follow the popular meat-plus-starch-plus-vegetable equation. That means that if one third of your plate is a juicy, flavorful, but gristly Kansas strip steak, and the second third is thick, peppery mashed potatoes, what will the remaining third be? A vegetable, of course; in this case, green beans.
Hamburgers like my Corrib burger, it should be noted, are not grilled, meaning that they end up kind of like the leavings in a meatloaf pan. But we loved the accompanying French fries, which tasted like they had been fried in the same oil as several batches of onion rings, and so possessed their own onion-y allure. I'm guessing they'd make excellent bar food.
And how could we pass up an offer so tempting as an Irish whiskey bread pudding, the dessert of the day? It delivered everything we had hoped for-- a rich, inviting pudding with warm flavors of vanilla, cinnamon, and brown sugar, and a sweet, buttery sauce spooned over the top. Here was a comforting, satisfying finish to our simple meal.