Restaurant Review – January 2013

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Finnbar’s Pub
 A friendly, neighborhood Irish pub

Overall rating on a scale of 1-10
Service 9 • Food  7 • Ambiance  7 • Price – $$

It is seven o’clock on a cold Friday night as my party of three open the door and step into Finnbar’s Pub in downtown Troy, which opened six months ago. Located in the former spot of Holmes & Watson, a popular fixture for over 30 years, owners Sean and Megan Costello named the pub for their young son.

The bar is busy, but not packed. The music is loud and there is lively conversation. We make our way down to the end of the bar and are immediately greeted by Megan. We settled in at the bar while we waited for our table to be ready. The three of us were ushered around the end of the bar to the adjacent dining room; however, our table wasn’t quite ready so back to the bar it was, which was fine with us. With over 20 drafts to choose from and a large selection of spirits, each of us could order what we pleased.  I ordered, or shall I say, shouted my order to the bartender for a Blacksmith ($6), which is a half-pint of Smithwick’s Irish Ale with a half-pint of Guinness floated on top. My sister-in-law, Kelly, ordered an O’Cosmo ($11) from Rosie’s Big Girl Drink & Martini Menu. It was terrific. Mark had an Absolut Mandarin ($7) on the rocks.

Megan re-appeared asking if we minded being seated upstairs, which at first glance seemed like overflow space. That quickly changed. Within 15 minutes the dining room was filled and Jason, our server, more than made up for the lack of ambiance.

The pub’s mission, according to its’ website, is to be “a place to bring your first date or family with wee half-pints in tow. To share a generous pint, with great food in a lively friendly atmosphere to create lasting memories.” Looking around at the other tables, it’s clear to see that Finnbar’s Pub is well on its way to accomplishing this. The crowd was a pretty even mix of young and older and families with kids in tow. Service was prompt and Finnbar’s Pub has the rare quality of being a neighborhood establishment that makes newcomers welcome.

This is where the review becomes mixed. On one hand, Finnbar’s is the kind of place where I want to hang out every Friday night. On the other hand some of the menu offerings were clear hits while other items were a miss.

We started with the sweet potato fries ($6), while mulling over our dinner choices. They were a hit – crispy on the outside, not greasy and served with a creamy, savory sauce that had just a hint of cinnamon. It was hard to choose our entrees, which included choices like Irish Stew, Cottage Pie, Finn’s Fish and Chips and Boxti. But it was the warm kale and Irish bacon salad which comes with the BBQ Bangers that caught my eye.

What to do? Jason suggested we order the Fish and Chips, Cottage Pie and Boxti with a side of kale salad. Of the three entrees, the Boxti ($10) was another hit. Described as “a cross between a potato pancake and a tortilla, wrapped around seasonal greens, herb roasted and hand-pulled locally-raised chicken served with a seasonal vinaigrette”.

The Cottage Pie ($11) is slow-roasted beef brisket in gravy topped with peas and mashed potatoes made with butter and green onions and served with Irish soda bread. I like the way they topped the pie with the potatoes on one half and peas on the other. The peas on top, instead of in the gravy, help keep their texture and flavor. Unfortunately, the rest of the dish was under-seasoned.

Kelly ordered Finn’s Fish and Chips ($14). The fish itself was light and flaky. The batter was really light and crispy, but way too greasy for our taste and also under-salted. I was also surprised that they charged us ($1) for ordering both tartar and cocktail sauce. The house-cut fries that came with the Boxti and the fish were very good.

The hands-down winner of the evening, believe it or not, was the warm kale salad ($4). The kale was cooked perfectly and served with warm pickled onions and just the right amount of perfectly rendered Irish bacon.

We plan on returning to Finnbar’s Pub. The wide selection of beers alone is worth the trip. The service is prompt, warm and friendly. And while some items on the menu didn’t work for us, we’re looking forward to having the sweet potato fries, boxti and kale salad again.

Finnbar’s Pub is located at 452 Broadway, Troy. They are open daily from 11am-2am; closed Sundays. For more information call 326.3994 or visit www.finnbarspub.com

Kimberly Hickok has always been passionate about food – farm to table, home cook to restaurant. She resides in Ballston Lake with her husband.
 

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