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Feb 27, 2009 05:56 AM

Surprisingly Excellent Food at the Druid

Was checking out some Jazz at Ryles last night so decided to hit the Druid for pre-jazz beer and maybe a bite.

I had absolutely no pre-conceived notions, thinking Boston Irish bar pub grub and mentally setting the bar REALLY low.

That said I was presently surprised, if not shocked at the quality and care of the prep and the whole experience.

The kitchen was VERY slow, and I think if you go on any night other then say a Tuesday, expect that. There is one chef and one prep guy in a minuscule kitchen. Our food took 45 minutes plus, but this ain't a hurry up and chow place. The vibe is about the beer, the warm friendly atmosphere, and a bit of a crowd.

4 of us squeezed into a two top, but even that was not bad, the table was pretty big, there was room, and we did not feel crowded at all.

To the food:

Large portion of mussels, competently done in a winey buttery sauce was great. Not the best in the universe, but very good. $9.99

Sirloin strip, excellent, perfectly cooked medium rare, YUM. A beautiful piece of meat. $17

Rib Eye, absolutely gorgeous, huge, enough for two, we ordered medium rare, it was probably rare, but excellent. At $19 this may be the best steak value in Boston. It was delicious! The mussels and this steak was dinner for two of us and then some.

Sheppards Pie probably the best version I have seen in Boston. Don't remember the price.

Others around us were having fish and chips and a HUGE Irish seafood stew with mountains of shrimp, fish, mussels, etc.

Our server was a delightful guy hustling madly to serve the whole room solo, and doing a very good job of it. One of our party was 1/2 hour behind the rest of us, and to make up for his meal being considerably behind ours he comped him us Guinness.

Don't go expecting Grill 23. But in the Irish Pub, on a crowded night, with limited resources, if you are hanging for the night there is no one in Boston doing a better job as far as I am concerned.

The busy waiter refilled our bread basket, really excellent dark Irish bread, when one of us asked for water he brought the whole table glasses.

If Deep Ellum could execute 1/2 as well as this excellent team did I would eat there regularly.

I for one will be putting the Druid on the permanent rotation.

Did I mention that the burgers looked amazing?

My only hesitation is that this place does not need any more attention, the secret is already out, when you run a clean well lighted place, have a warm, no attitude friendly vibe, deliver value for your money, and treat your customers well, go figure, the place is hoppin'...

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  1. I'm glad you finally tried it ... the food is indeed very good.

    One of my favorite burgers in town -- this is the one with fresh ginger as a secret ingredient. Sounds weird, tastes great. Great fish and chips.

    For a good time, go early on a quiz night and settle in with your pint.

    14 Replies
    1. re: yumyum

      I ate once before, but got something so basic as to not give me a real read. I think I also just have general "fear of Boston Irish Pub food" which was totally conquered last night.

      1. re: StriperGuy

        Matt Murphy's in Brookline is another winner in the Irish pub food genre.

        1. re: Parsnipity

          I have hit Matt Murphy's a couple of times, I would give the edge to the Druid.

          1. re: Parsnipity

            Matt Murphy's is the place that gives me the same sort of dread of Irish pubs that StriperGuy notes. I was once served a plate of fish and chips there that I took as a personal insult.

            1. re: Parsnipity

              I thought I read somewhere that the chef at the Druid worked at Matt Murphy's before it's fall from grace. I strongly recommend the cheeseburger. DC's have raved about the chicken sandwich as well (you better like mayo).

              1. re: fecalface

                Did I read here that the original Matt Murphy's owner sold the place some years ago, and that the food has never been the same since? I was curious, since I'm due to drop by again soon. Any recent impressions on what's good there?

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  My post was based on a visit a few years ago- sorry, no recent data. I do love their bar trivia- at least in the past, they were the only place that included a "name that song" audio round.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    As far as I know Siobhan is still involved in Matt Murphy's although Matt Murphy himself left a long time ago. Because of her involvement in Pomodoro, he ran the kitchen and pub at night, she set some things up during they day (at one point I believe she did a lot of the bread baking, which they may not do in house any more). They have always had a lot of personnel turnover there and inconsistent service. Certainly a lot of chowhounds tie the slide in food to Matt Murphy leaving, although I am not convinced that is entirely the case -- I certainly had mediocre food there before and I have had good meals since, plus the menu has always had some dogs. That said when it opened it was an Irish Pub, now its remodeled and doesn't have the same feeling anymore. There were a bunch of rules when it reopened (in the original they would seat different parties together and it was quite informal), the menu has lost some of its focus... after a certain hour the music and bar scene is the focus whereas before it was a bit more subtle. They also got rid of Guinness in favor of Murphy's, although I don't know if they have changed that -- it was always fun watching someone suggest it for a Guinness when they didn't have it.

                    For food, I haven't been in a long time because of the changes, but have still always done well with the Oxtail soup and fries. They serve champ with the roast chicken and the side is better. The trout is probably a better bet than the fish and chips. Its a really simple dish to make at home, but their rabbit pie with a soda crust was a good option. I think they serve the same rabbit, but as a stew w/o the crust (if they have the dough, it just bakes about 15 minutes so maybe they would make it on request or maybe you would get told off by your server :-). I never really liked their shepards pie, you might risk something off the sandwich menu. But soup, fries, and some of the sides are consistent. Although Pomodoro nearby is taking credit cards, it maybe still cash only.

                    The Druid has done a better overall job of remaining a pub, with the food and craic intertwining in a low-pressure environment. The food also is a lot better overall than Matt Murphy's, although its changed a fair bit over time. I don't know if they have done away with the separate lunch menu, with some good sirloin tips, but they have added a few more Irish touches over the years. But they aren't trying to be Matt Murphy's, its pub food in a Pub atmosphere. Their Irish breakfast for Sunday brunch is pretty good too... FWIW YumYum and Gini have been talking up the Druid for ages, although some of those recs may have gotten lost in the many endless "best burger in boston" threads.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      On the Druid burger front, I finally had one last weekend. It was absolutely perfectly done. That said chalk me up to the "I don't like stuff in my burger" school." They seem to put scallions and some other herbs inside, which is tasty, but not my bag. Of that style, it really was superb, but not my bag.

                      1. re: StriperGuy

                        As I've said many (too many) times ... the secret ingredient in the burger is fresh ginger. I'm a purist too, but when I want that style (ie: stuff in my burger) the Druid is the best.

                        1. re: yumyum

                          Ah yes burger-sensei ;-) now that you mention it I do recall your posting this in the past... ginger it was.

                          Again, most excellent for it's type.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            I seem to recall the burgers have a detectable amount of fresh basil in them too.

                            1. re: Blumie

                              I knew it was some herb, perhaps I was totally wrong about the scallions, but there was definitely something green...

            2. re: yumyum

              The Druid is currently on top of my "best burger in boston" list. (Still have to sample a few more places, though.)

            3. I love the Druid too, and that it's right in my neighborhood makes it even better. My roommate swears by their burger and Wednesday night trivia. I love their fish sandwich, although I wish they would serve it at brunch. I walked in late one night (don't recall which day of the week) to find 12 Irish fiddlers crammed into the front booth, jamming away. It's one of my favorite places to check everything at the door and just relax.

              1. Yeah! Nothing surprising about it. And you didn't even have the burger, which is the very best of all. Just don't let the secret out.

                1. Friends took us there one weekend in January. I had the Shepard's Pie, which was truly wonderful, chock full of hearty lamb. One the best meals I've ever eaten in a bar. Plus they make a mean Bloody Mary!

                  1. The pork chop is amazing as well. It comes with great mashed potato. The chop is a massive bone-in. I love everything about this place.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Snowflake

                      The food is great. Try the fish chowder app- its the best. Most of their dishes are enough for 2 people so it is a good deal. The people who work there are all fun and friendly. Only problem I have with the place is sometimes it is too crowded to get in! A bummer, as its just down the street.