Back to O'Leary's in Brookline...
We went over to O'Leary's for the second time in the past week. I'm really starting to love that place, and can see it being one of my regular spots.
The Guinness beef stew was excellent, with lots of lean, tender beef, as well as carrots and potatoes. And the pints of Guinness....well, I've had Guinness nearly everywhere in Boston, and I'd put the quality of the pours near the top of my list (along with James's Gate in JP and perhaps Hugh O'Neill's in Malden).
The brown bread and scones were also delicious, though I like the brown bread at Mannion's in Quincy better--a bit more fresh with a heartier consistency there. Salads were decent, with what appeared to be homemade dressing.
And the music in the background.....nothing like traditional Irish jigs and reels mixed in with Van Morrison and the Young Dubliners playing softly while you're enjoying a pint. Between that and the dark, moody lighting, I almost felt like I was in a pub in Dalkey, Kilkenny, or Adare.
Alas, the older guy at the bar with the bad Henny Youngman jokes wasn't there last night, though......
Tried O'Learys tonight per the above recommendations, and was not impressed. It was a fine Guinness, but the food was nothing to write home about.
My take on it:
Atmosphere: Decent, quiet, relaxing space. It smelled a bit of heavy oil/fish, as if everyone in the room were eating the fish and chips. Normally I like fish and chips, but the smell was a bit off-putting, so when it came time to order, I followed the above advice to stay with the basics, and tried a burger, done medium. DC had the shepherd's pie and a dinner salad.
Brown bread and scones were served -- but served very cold, as if right out of the refrigerator. Not just room temperature, but actively cold. They seemed to taste good, so if served appropriately room temperature (or even better, warmed?) they probably would have been good. But cold bread with cold butter? Nah.
Burger was squarely fine - nothing particularly exciting. Slightly cooked beyond medium , but not offensively so. But it wasn't particularly flavorful meat -- perhaps they use a lean ground beef, it didn't have a ton of flavor and wasn't very moist. Fries were serviceable. Again, squarely average.
DC's dinner salad was good, with some romaine lettuce, shredded carrot, sliced onion, reasonable winter tomato, and a parmesan peppercorn dressing served automatically on the side. The shepherd's pie was pretty good - I didn't have a much of it so don't have lot to say about it.
When we got there, I found the music so inoffensive that it offended me. It was some sort of James Taylor-like playlist, which grates on me in its blandness. At some point they switched to the Irish-themed strings, which was fine. And the live music that started up there was ok, keyboard + guitar + cover songs. Not too loud, we could still carry a conversation.
Overall: if I go back, I'll probably sit at the bar and get a drink, but eat elsewhere before or afterwards. I think the food is better at the Dogwood, James Gate, Audubon, even Clery's in the South End.
re: JP RS
We usually sit at the bar and get the specials - last night's looked really good but we couldn't eat there. Maybe the tuna was the smell you experienced? Except for the burger or fish and chips, I've always stuck with the specials as do most of the regulars and have never had a bad meal there.
re: JP RS