The Dubliner Is Reborn
Irish gastro pub comes to National Avenue
Stenstrup, who also runs Steny’s just across the street, extensively renovated
the building. The fieldstone exterior matches the indoor fireplace. The
interior remains a tad plain, though a large mural of Irish scenery adorns one
wall. An outdoor terrace is ready for summertime customers.
The Dubliner bills
itself as a “gastro pub,” which implies a heavy focus on the food—and, indeed,
most of the early customers are clearly here to dine. The menu is not far from
that of a true Irish pub. Yes, chicken curry qualifies, though corned beef is
scarcely found on menus in the Emerald Isle. This menu has everything from
Irish stew to salads, pub (small) plates, sandwiches and entrees. In general
the fare is homey, not gastro-pretentious.
All right, the
Dubliner crab cakes ($12) do have touches of gastro. Instead of breading, lump
blue crab meat is combined with a mousse of shrimp and scallop. The resulting cakes
are feathery in texture and all of the combined flavors shine. The cakes, which
are just fine without the tomato coulis, arrive with some mashed potatoes and
wilted spinach. Another pub plate offers Gallaway Bay
mussels ($9). Presumably this alludes to Galway
Bay on Ireland’s west coast, though either
way they are delicious. The dish arrives as a big bowl of blue mussels in
assorted sizes, with leeks and red potatoes in a Guinness broth. The slightly
tart broth is especially good with the potatoes. With a taste this good, the
broth merits more than the one small roll that comes with this serving.
The entrees stay
true to The Dubliner’s Irish theme, except for the corned beef ($14) that is
served in thick, lean slices. Other items include shepherd’s pie, lamb shank,
salmon and filet mignon. Walleye pike ($18) includes three filets, lightly
breaded with a hint of horseradish, that are pan-fried—crisp and delicious, if
a bit pricey. A cream sauce with flecks of parsley tops the filets. The plate
also includes mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley of leeks and carrots. Some
will prefer the sauce served on the side, as it competes with the crispness of
the horseradish crust.
stew is not an entrée; however, a beef and lamb version in a Guinness broth
with the usual root veggies is offered as a starter course ($4.50-$5.50). There
also is country leek and potato soup ($3.50-$4.50), a sound cream soup with a
few herbs. Consider ordering a house salad ($3.50) with an entrée or pub plate.
The leaf lettuce with tomato, onion and cucumber is very fresh, plus there is a
wedge of hard-boiled egg and tasty garlic croutons. The dressings are above the
norm, especially the house tomato vinaigrette. Weekends offer Irish breakfasts
and a special lunch menu.
The Dubliner still
feels very new. Pubs should have more of a timeworn feel, and this building
will age well with time. For now, this is still a nice setting. In addition,
the service is friendly and the menu is thoughtful—not to mention the decent
international beer list. This should prove to be a good home for the rebirth of
124 W. National Ave.
Credit Cards: VS, MC
Handicap Access: Yes