Saturday, January 16, 2010

restaurant: Mac McGee's

Intoxicated with food adventure after my dinner at Woodfire Grill on Tuesday (extensive post forthcoming, I promise), I got out to the new Irish pub on Decatur square, Mac McGee's, on Wednesday. (They don't seem to have a website yet, but you can check out the menu on Decatur Metro's post about them.)

Mac McGee's pub in Decatur - a view from the magical beer window, complete with Trois Pistoles.The space is tiny but friendly, with several small high-top tables, stools along the bar, a few high-backed corner booths, and a couple 2-to-4-tops. We snagged the cozy booth at the front, which can be completely closed in but for a window that goes through to the bar. Highly recommended for largeish parties of close friends and/or people who want to feel like they're in a mafia movie. It's a nonsmoking establishment (bliss!), and decorated, appropriately, in glowing woods and dim lights.

I was excited to try the food, being a fan of the chef, Ryan Stewart, from when he headed the kitchen at The Glenwood. I ordered the lamb cottage pie (fine-ground lamb in gravy covered with mashed potatoes, with a side of simply dressed salad) and it was good but underwhelming, with little lamby flavor and a higher ratio of potatoes-to-meat than I would've preferred.

That was the only entrée I tasted, so I'll reserve judgment until I have a chance to go back, but the sandwiches I tried -- the corned beef and the cheeseburger with house-made bacon -- seemed to be much surer bets. Each was served on excellent bread (a squishy, eggy roll for the cheeseburger and a thick & chewy toasted baguette for the corned beef), and both meats were very well seasoned -- though I'm not sure that the burgers were actually cooked to order, despite the waitress asking everyone at what temperature they wanted theirs. The sandwiches came with sides of the best fries I've had in a long time -- small wedges of potato with a high contrast of crispy coating to meltingly soft meal. I usually don't consider fries to be worth the calories, but I could eat a lot of these.

The draft list had some terrific options (I had a Houblon Chouffe IPA Tripel and a Unibroue Trois Pistoles Strong Dark Ale), though the list was missing any form of description, in some cases including what brewery the beers were from. (Tasting notes aren't necessary on a menu, and the bartender cheerfully provided explanations and recommendations, but I'd at least like to know the general categories and gravities of what's available. My beergeek knowledge isn't always immediately accessible, especially after I've had one [Yes, one. I'm tiny].) I heard tell of a whiskey menu but didn't see one and didn't ask -- Wednesday wasn't that kind of night, and I really didn't want to tempt myself to turn it into that kind of night. But it's precisely the sort of place that I'd like to spend time denting a barstool and nursing from a short glass, and I'll definitely report back on the whiskey situation once I have.

Our waitress and bartenders were casual, good-humored, and attentive, with I think only two tiny, quickly-resolved hiccups for our table of 9, which counts as a complete service win.

Will definitely be returning. Let me know if you've been, and what you've thought if you have! And/or tell me what's your favorite UK-style pub around town -- especially if it's off the beaten.


Summer said...

We may want to get reservations if possible, but I think we should check this place out sometime

the grammar monkey said...

Oh holy crap yes. Like, RIGHT NOW. So much yes. I wonder if team girl would be up for brunch this coming Sunday!

Grumble Girl said...

All sounds so great!! Wow. If only I lived a leedle bit closer...

Summer said...

Oh, and also we need to get some dim sum one of these Sat./Sun. too. But we should maybe invite the boys to that one. I think they are starting to get jealous of our girls outtings.

the grammar monkey said...

I'm all for the boys being allowed along! Secretly, I like the boys.

the grammar monkey said...

And hi, Grumble Girl! (I was possibly full of hurry and very poor blogitquette yesterday! Apologies!) Yeeeah Decatur is a bit of a stomp from Montreal. And if you WERE coming into town, there're a lot of places I'd tell you to go before Mac McGee's, honestly -- nothing against McGee's! I'm biased towards places that've come to feel like home over the years, and a new place, however rad, can't quite compete with that. I really have to put together a list of those places sometime soon.

Thanks for reading!

lamback said...

ANTÓN, without hesitation began to paint verbal portraits of any item on the well stocked bar. Any question asked, any inquiry about a recommendation was first followed politely with intelligent probing question by ANTÓN. He would then process and conclude with a recommendation that I am sure was spot on for the consumer. A question was asked about the house Irish whiskey in comparison to a 12 year old single malt selection. ANTÓN described the former as “a little bit rougher on the palette, as he gestured to the back of his throat. I watched as he opened bottles and described smells and then let customers actually smell for themselves. With the direct connection between taste and smell, it was an excellent way to educate customers without giving away free tastings all night long and not selling the product.

As far as the food, I had the soup of the day, a creamy Vidalia onion soup. It wasn’t quite my cup of “soup” however it tasted EXACTLY as ANTÓN described. I am sure I ruined it by adding salt without tasting it. (Sorry mom!) My bar neighbor had the Irish Breakfast, which looked delish and was served bountifully. I promise I will return and have several items on the menu and give you a full report later.

Another shocker. The prices. My Macallan 12 is just $8.00 a three finger pour or three shots for $20.00. And they regularly have tasting specials ranging from $15.00 for three different Irish whiskeys.

As several patrons left, the valediction was, see you Monday. After a while I asked, is Mac Mcgee’s closed on Sunday? ANTÓN explained, not at all, it’s just that he is off on Sunday. No doubt if I were a regular, I would know his schedule too.

Anonymous said...

I went with someone else 2 days ago and was stunned at how much the menu had gone down-hill. When I went 2 months ago the menu was this great foodie-type gourmet menu. Now the most innovative item on the menu is this shepherd's pie and the really terrific dessert items have also disappeared. Does anyone know what's going on with McGee's?