McShane's: Old-fashioned Irish pub serving better than average food
Tuesday, September 02, 2014 10:00 AM
Back in April, I wrote about six new restaurants that were under construction in Port Chester. All of them have now opened except one-Rye House. Among the first to welcome patrons was McShane's Pub & Restaurant which ironically had its grand opening on the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo at 123 North Main St., the space that for many years housed Los Remolinos Colombian bar and restaurant.
Irishmen Edmund Cleary and Vincent Furey are the faces behind McShane’s. The co-owners each have 14 years of experience working in Irish bars. Jananne Abel|Westmore News
With Latino eateries of one nationality or another now dominating the Port Chester restaurant scene, a new Irish pub and restaurant comes as a welcome addition.
Vincent Furey of Yonkers, who tended bar at Davy Byrnes Irish restaurant and bar in Port Chester for 14 years, and longtime friend Edmund Cleary of Yonkers, who was a bartender at Dunne's Pub in White Plains for the same amount of time, felt there was room in Port Chester for a second Irish pub and eatery. With the reception the establishment has received so far, patrons obviously agree.
"They say Port Chester needed a good Irish pub," waitress and bartender Christiane Hennessy of Riverdale said. She enjoys her job because "people are just friendly around here and the boys (referring to Vincent and Edmund) are just good to work for."
Furey and Cleary took over the North Main Street location around Thanksgiving 2013 and spent five months transforming it into their dream restaurant/bar with the help of a designer and Navac Builders out of Orangeburg, N. Y., which, Furey said, builds a lot of Irish bars in New York City.
The partners came up with the idea for the attractive space, which was stripped down to reveal the original tin ceiling, but they hired a designer to implement it.
McShane's attracts a wide range of ages-from 20-somethings to 60-somethings, and that's one aspect I especially like about the place. My 21-year-old and her friends hang out there, mostly for drinking and socializing, and my husband and I think McShane's is great because it provides another much-needed location to get a good late night meal and a beer after a Monday meeting. It's also a pleasant place to have lunch with its savory house made soups, wraps, salads, sandwiches and burgers as well as wonderful fresh-brewed iced tea if you don't have the luxury of taking the day off and actually have to go back to work.
"We tried to go a little bit above," Cleary said about the food. They consulted with an Irish chef from the City to develop the menu.
Most of all, McShane's is a fun place full of friendly people including the owners, patrons, bartenders and waitresses. We have had Christiane as our waitress at least three times and you couldn't ask for a friendlier, more helpful server.
Pub is short for public house, a spot for people to gather, Furey and Cleary explained.
"We want to be the local place where everybody of all backgrounds and families feel comfortable from lunchtime to closing time," Cleary said. "We get so many repeat customers which is what we're looking for."
The establishment's moniker was the result of a collaboration between the owners who said they were just trying to pick a good Irish name that was short and easy to remember. Ed and his wife have a son named Shane, one of theirfourchildren, soMcShane's stemmed from there.
Cleary and Furey, a familiar face in Port Chester, having lived in the village for many years and having worked at Davy Byrnes through St. Patrick's Day, run their establishment in a very hands-on sort of way. "We're both here mostly every evening," Furey said, and they make the rounds among the patrons to let them know their business is appreciated. "We're trying to take Monday nights off."
The bar's the thing
Thecenterpieceof McShane's is its rectangular bar seating 32 with 13 beers on tap right now but the potential for 24, and I'm sure that's where many patrons spend most of their time. However, I usually prefer the booths, and I've also sat at the high tops. There are four booths at the right side of the restaurant and another three in the back room. The high tops are situated at the front, mostly with a view out the windows, ideal during the daylight hours.
There's a beer to please every palate at McShane's. They include some craft- among them IPAs and local beers-some seasonal, some Irish, as well as the most popular brands. Besides the draught brews, 25 bottled beers, ranging from Bud Light and Heineken to Modelo Negro, Omission Pale Ale, Dogfish Brown Ale, Goose Island IPA, Twisted Tea and Red's Apple Ale, are printed on a list which is circulated with the menus. The most up-to-date inventory of available draught beers is scrawled on a blackboard above the bar.
A 16-ounce beer ranges from $4.75 for Miller Light to $5.50 or $6 for most varieties. Guinness, served in a 20-ounce glass, costs $7.
I'm not a fan of dark beers and therefore had shied away from Guinness until I went to photograph Furey and Cleary for this article and suggested we add a beer to the picture. Ed poured a Guinness and offered it to me, explaining that the head on top is sweet and the dark beer below is bitter, so when you drink them together, they blend into a thick brew with a robust, balanced flavor. Once introduced, I actually found this popular Irish stout quite pleasing.
Besides beer or any other mixed drink you can think of, McShane's was offering five specialty cocktails for $9 and $10 and five different martinis for $10 and $11, which were about to change as we went to press, but I tried the McShane's Bullet made with Bullet bourbon, ginger and lime juice ($10) and the pomegranate martini made with Absolut Citron, Cointreau and pomegranate juice ($11) and can recommend them both.
There are also nine wines by the glass for $7-$10.
McShane's runs a Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 3-7 p. m. when they offer various specials on beers and wines.
What's cooking? Irish dishes and more
Besides traditional Irish dishes and bar food, Mc-Shane's offers some surprises like nut crusted fried brie with fresh fig chutney dipping sauce ($11) as an appetizer which brought four fat pieces of cheese rolled in nuts with an optional sweet sauce for dipping. Or the Lobster Club ($14), large chunks of cold lobster tossed with mayo and topped with pancetta, arugula and vine-ripened tomatoes. That's not something you would expect to find in an Irish bar. The sandwich is served on a delicious thick rye toast in a black wire basket over hand cut fries with skins.
For lunch, which started up in the middle of June, I was also impressed with the soup of the day ($4), a creamy, robust mushroom filled with slices of the delectable fungi.
The traditional fish and chips ($15) brought two ample pieces of the fish of the day covered in a crunchy batter, for now cod but it could change to another white fish. It was served with a pickled remoulade on a square white plate with lots of fries.
My husband was disappointed with the steak sandwich ($14), served on the same yummy bread as the lobster club but this time grilled instead of toasted. While there was plenty of tender beef, he wasn't crazy about the sweet house made sauce that covered it.
We were both blown away by the Country Cottage Pie ($15), made with chunks of braised short rib, red wine, onions and peas presented on a cutting board in a wrought iron skillet and covered with mashed potatoes swirled on top and lightly browned.
The McShane's Burger ($12) is another good bet. The sizable patty is topped with Applewood bacon, sweet onion confit and stilton cheese (an English blue). I ordered my burger medium and it was on the rarer side but still delicious served on a soft roll. The burger, too, was presented on a thin cutting board with fries.
Other things of note on the dinner menu are the spiced lamb sliders ($12), make your own flat bread pizza starting at $10 and adding $1 for each topping, lobster salad ($15), Corned Beef Reuben Sandwich ($11) and Lobster Mac 'n' Cheese ($18).
With the new menus coming out this week, the Short Rib Grilled Cheese ($12), which was on the brunch menu, is being added to the dinner menu. Made with braised short rib combined with gruyere and mozzarella cheeses, it is Vincent's grandma's recipe, and I'm told this sandwich is to die for.
Another comfort food, Bangers and Mash (mashed potatoes and pork sausages), a traditional British Isles dish, is also being added. On the same theme, meatloaf will be offered as a special.
Currently there are lunch specials like salads and wraps every day from 12 noon to 3 p. m. which are scrawled on an easel placed on the sidewalk. Dinner specials will be coming up.
Brunch and late night
On Saturdays and Sundays from 12-4 p. m. brunch is served. The menu features a traditional Irish breakfast of two eggs, sausages and rashers (lean Irish bacon), black and white pudding and roasted tomato for $13.
Brunch includes a complimentary Mimosa, McShane's Bloody Mary or red sangria.
Eggs Benedict ($12), Mc-Shane's French Toast with candied walnuts, strawberries, bananas and syrup ($11), fig pancakes ($11), a bacon omelet ($11) as well as sandwiches, burgers and salads are on the brunch menu. And of course you can just get bacon and eggs if you like.
The kitchen is open daily from noon to 3 a. m. After 11 p. m. the bar menu, which includes appetizers like Irish nachos (topped with cheddar, bacon, scallions and sour cream at $9), chicken fingers ($8) and chicken wings with gorgonzola sauce ($9), plus burgers ($10+) and flat bread pizza, kicks in.
McShane's, which is entered through a cool-looking vestibule with two large windows allowing you to peer inside, seats 93. Besides the striking wooden bar with its heavy stools and padded seats, you can't miss the square pattern of the original tin ceiling, which covers a good portion of the restaurant. It was glazed with dark brown to accent the initial off-white and cover any imperfections.
The idea of the décor is to look old while actually being brand new. Walls are covered with heavy paneling or wallpaper with a faded blue old-fashioned print and hung with black and white photos, many of people dressed in clothing from another era, in antique frames.
Tables are made of heavy wood, booths of off-white wainscoting rubbed with brown and fitted with beige seats, and there are light fixtures with lampshades above each. Wood planks cover the floor. Lights also hang from the ceiling, some with metal shades.
You can reserve the back room, which seats about 30 at three booths, two private tables and one long communal table with barstools, for parties. This area continues the old-world theme with its heavy ceiling beams, faded wallpaper, and worn-looking mirrors.
To take advantage of the Irish bar's 11 TVs, which seem almost out of place juxtaposed with the rest of the décor, the owners are going to be showing every NFL game starting in September accompanied by food and drink specials. Games take place Thursday nights, Sundays, Sunday nights and Monday nights.
Parking for McShane's is on the street, where payment is enforced until 9 p. m. Another consideration: there is no parking allowed on North Main Street after 1 a. m. Since McShane's is at the intersection of North Main and Willett Avenue, I've taken to parking on Willett whenever there's a spot available.