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MSP-- looking for good english/irish bar food

where can I get a good corned beef sandwich or shepard's pie?

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  1. The Local - best food and ambience

    Keegan's - good enough food but live irish folk jams on sunday nights

    The Local
    931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

    Keegan's Irish Pub-Restaurant
    16 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

    1. see i don't think msp currently offers great english/irish pub food. brit's is just okay, though you con't argue with eating your fish & chips on the rooftop in summer with the verdant bowling green. . . the local is also just *okay*-- maybe i'm biased, dh used to work there and i had many a mediocre plate while i waited for his shift to end, still i'd say it was not stellar though. i wouldn't be bribed with whiskey to eat anything at keegan's. ever. not even peanuts. can't rec against it more strongly.

      one new pub i am excited to try is mcmahon's on lake street-- the former poodle club, significantly spiffed up from what i hear. supposed to have good fish n' chips and i'd imagine other good honest pub food, w/o cutting corners like the local et al. if you try the food there please post.

      2 Replies
      1. re: soupkitten

        Well, I'm actually a fairly biased opinion here, since I use McMahon's (the former Poodle Club) as my afternoon office, but I have eaten there quite a bit (the afternoons do tend to extend to early evening).

        If there was an award for most improved bar with a new operator in the same location, McMahon's would definitely win. The Poodle was run-down (particularly under the owner's of the last couple of years), smoke-filled and drew a dicey crowd at the best of times. Dom has extensively cleaned the interior (and the food prep areas, which apparently took 3 days and a grinder to get the grease off) and redone the stage and bar areas. Rather than looking like a place you might want to purchase illicit drugs in, it now has a kind of roadhouse feel. He's got bands or some sort of music going on the stage 7 nights a week...the logo is "taking a bite out of the blues" and it's turned into a bit of a blues mecca in the short time it's been open...The Butanes play there every Friday night and there's a great Sunday blues jam.

        I would definitely rate his F&C up there with the best in the Twin Cities, and on par with something you might get at F&C shack in London...which, IMHO, are not the ambrosia of carefully tended, foodie heaven but rather a greasy/good chowsnack.
        McMahon's are lightly breaded, shatteringly crisp and made with fish fresh enough to hold together under the duress of the deep fryer and melt into your mouth on the first bite.

        More interesting are his Shepard's Pie, Boxty and both the lamb and Guiness stews. The boxty is out of this world, and the best of Irish pub food...long simmered meat stew on top of thick potato pancakes...simple, hearty and filling, best served on a below zero night with a side of Jameson.

        Strangely for a pub, his grilled cheese might be the best in town, made with aged cheddar and a slice of Irish bacon...the perfect lunch fare.

        So, add in the free Wi-fi, great music and an owner that's actually Irish and willing to tell you about it...it's a great new addition to East Lake Street.

        1. re: Dragon

          Dragon, thank you for this review! I have been curious about McMahon's, but not quite brave enough to shake off the impressions its previous incarnation.

      2. Hmm I also recommend the Local. I think the food can be less than fantastic when it`s really busy, but overall it`s really good.

        1. I'm with soupkitten for the most part. Brit's probably has the most authentic and consitant F&C (I only ever go to London, Manchester and Bristol though) though no one in town serves it with mushy peas. Their Stilton burger is passable, and the shepard's pie is good. Local & Kieren's are the same and in my opinion overbreaded F&C but not terrible. I am not a fan of their menu however. Corned beef has been grissly. Mini burgers and wings aren't terribly authentic I would imagine, but whatever.

          I have to disagree on Keegan's. I think they have the world's worst F&C (overcooked, overbreaded fish jerky) but their shepard's pie and guiness pie (what would be steak & kidney pie but they leave out the kidneys) are both good. Good pub quiz as well, though still not the event that Brits' is.

          Please let me know if you find a place offering a good corned beef sandwhich. I like the reuben @ Mac's as it is brisket style corned beef. I've heard good things about Bewhiched. Most places I have found do not braise or brine/corn their own beef though, so it all ends up tasting same and bland.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Foureyes137

            But the OP didn't ask about F&C, but asked about Shepherd's Pie instead. I don't eat red meat, but one of my best friends loves the stuff at Keegan's and it always LOOKS good, so I thought it would be worth a rec in the context of their live music on Sundays.

            I don't think any Irish or British place in town has fish & chips worth mentioning - especially Brit's. The times I've had it there, it was mushy and greasy. Maybe I'm missing something. Anyway, F&C has been covered in other threads.

          2. I agree with what soupkitten and foureyes have said about Brit's, the Local, and Kieran's.

            However, to balance out your options, you can also get OK grub at the LIffey in St. Paul. It's also owned, I believe, by Kieran Folliard (who owns Kieran's and the Local).

            1. I know it's a chain, but I would recommend the Claddagh in Maple Grove. The shepard's pie is excellent, but I always go back to the F&C .. my #1 restaurant in NW suburbs.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DinMedina

                I just had a lousy experience at Claddagh in MG last week. We'd eaten there right when they put it in and it seemed good, but when we went a second time all the food was overpriced and not that great. I got the corned beef and cabbage at it was (amazingly) undersalted and overall lacking in flavor and overcooked. The shepherd's pie was skimpy and the only thing that seemed to be enjoyed was the BBQ chicken sandwhich, which isn't Irish at all. In the end I wish we'd just driven to Mpls to go to the Local.

              2. This doesn't answer your question, unfortunately I have no further suggestions beyond what's already been offered. However, I do have a warning regarding The Liffey in St. Paul. The hubbin and I went there recently hoping to get a nice Irish-y sort of breakfast. You know, maybe a little bubble and squeak, some bangers and mash...but to our horror we were handed a standard Holiday Inn breakfast menu! Ack! I didn't want a "Best-4-Valu (TM)" skillet! How about some toad-in-the-hole or black pudding or, or, well anything that doesn't sport a TRADEMARKED name?! Bleh.

                Also not answering your question specifically, but in reference, generally, to English food, I'd like to vote for Mac's Fish & Chips as most authentic. Actually, it's my husband's expert opinion--he's a very recent immigrant from Ol' Blighty and he's given it his seal of approval, down to its authentic and unattractive decor. Now if only they had the mushy peas!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: mrsforss

                  Thanks for the warning on breakfast.

                  Glad to hear you've had a good experience at Mac's. There's been a long discussion on Fish & Chips in MSP here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/434030

                  Also here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/372076

                  The view on Mac's has been mixed.

                  1. re: bob s

                    i actually just found a pretty good place. Jake O'connors public house in excelsor. Some of the best Shepard's pie i have had in a while.

                2. I love Keegan's. Good food, it has an old-school pub look, and they were playing the Dropkick Murphys. The Shepherd's Pie was very good.