Shepherd's Pie at McLynn's
As St. Paddy's Day approaches, this downtown anchor is the spot for a Guinness and a hearty meal
With green carpet, chairs and placemats, and thick, frothy Guinness on tap, it's always March inside McLynn's. But as the season for pipes and drums, and corned beef and cabbage approaches, this Morris Avenue pub is even more festive.
Green shamrocks bearing the names of three Irish beers – Harp, Guinness and Smithwicks – crisscross the dining room and bar area at McLynn's, and the staff are decked out in green and white t-shirts.
The menu here, however, is not straight out of the Emerald Isle. You won't find lamb, stews, or boiled ham. But you will find a good lineup of comfort food: potato skins with cheddar and bacon, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, thick burgers (possibly our favorite in town), and a blackboard of specials that last week included salmon, a Texas burger and a chicken sandwich.
Entrees at McLynn's include a salad or a vegetable. On a solo lunch visit last week, I opted for the salad, a good mix of romaine greens, from the darker, healthier leaves to the light and crispy. Shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber were also on the salad, which I ordered with a side of a good, sharp, creamy blue cheese dressing.
With March approaching, I had to order one of the most popular Irish dishes—shepherd's pie. I grew up eating this dish with ground beef, though as an adult I tend to make it with ground lamb or venison. At McLynn's, the shepherd's pie is made with ground beef, well seasoned and cooked with some tiny carrots, peas and perhaps celery and onion.
Atop the beef is a generous amount of light, mashed potatoes, spread on decoratively with a pastry bag and sprinkled with a reddish seasoned salt and broiled to a golden brown.
This was a solid meat-and-potatoes meal, the type the Irish are known for. It was ideal for cold winter day. I had mine with unsweetened iced tea, but a Guinness would go well with this.
At this time of year, the St. Patrick's Day kitsch can be too much. Leprechauns, green beer and green buttons with sayings like “Everybody's a wee bit Irish on St. Paddy's Day” are not my cup of tea. On the other hand, I started my day this morning browsing Colman Andrews' award-winning “The Country Cooking of Ireland,” a beautiful hardcover filled with stories and recipes from Ireland. Now that, like Barry's Irish breakfast, is my cup of tea.
While it may not be an authentic representation of true Irish fare, McLynn's is also not annoyingly faux Irish. With a solid shepherd's pie, fish and chips, and Irish beer on tap, it lies somewhere in between, and it's a worthy stop for hearty meal, especially in these cold months.