Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Irish Snug

The Irish Snug restaurant and bar looks like a nice enough place from the outside -- there is a decent sized patio and a lot of frontage.  But it hides much more, the place is expansive inside, with a basement that runs below the entire half-block building.  There is also a wide variety of environments inside, including a couple "snugs," which are booths with walls and doors of their own, historically used for private conversations.  There is also an area with big couches downstairs, and an area that looks like a theater, as well as numerous high-top bar tables upstairs and down.

In ethnic restaurants, I always like to order as prototypically as possible, so we perused the appetizers for something "Irish."  Nothing particularly screamed its ethnicity, but the British Isles are known for their love of Indian cuisine, and there were curry fries on the menu, so we had to try them.  The fries were a bit soggy and the curry didn't add much until you got down to the bottom of the pile of fries, but the curry sauce was pretty tasty.

I think I went pretty authentic for dinner -- I ordered fish and chips, and drank a Guinness.  The chips had the same issues as in the appetizer, somewhat soggy and not all that interesting.  The fish, though, was very good.   It had a very light breading that was just crispy, and it smelled terrific.  The fish itself had good flavor and wasn't overpowered by the breading.  I was a bit put off by the shape, just because I like it when fish looks more like fish, but the taste more than made up for it.

We also ordered a Reuben, which, according to Wikipedia, is more of an American Irish thing than authentically Irish.  I have to admit not being a Reuben expert -- I don't know that I've ever ordered it before, but the tastes, while bold, were not overwhelming, and it made for a decent sandwich. In the annals of reuben, this would go down as solidly average.

There were signs up saying there is live music, but we came early on a weekday, so we missed it.  I also noticed that there were many men there with shaved heads, which seems like a popular fashion choice for Irish men, so I took it as a good sign.

As an aside, for those readers who are runners, the Snug sponsors a Thursday night running club. The participation is impressive with consistently 200+ runners showing up for a 3-miler, followed by free salad and spaghetti. A far cry from traditional Irish food, but it is free, the beer is happy hour prices for runners and it provides a reason to run.

Irish Snug on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Kinga’s Lounge

Kinga’s Lounge, technically located at 1509 Marion Street (that is to say, not a Colfax address), holds courts at the corner of Colfax and Marion. Its door, located on the southeast corner of the building, diplomatically spills you onto the intersection of both these streets, but with significant restaurant frontage, including a patio, on Colfax Avenue, and a crowd that runs the gamut from blue collar to hipster to polish natives, Kinga’s belongs to Colfax.
Kinga’s is housed in a mansion that was built in 1889 that has seen renovations and additions ever since. Originally a single family home, the space has since become the home of restaurants and bars since 1960. With that said, the interior is a little worn, but more would be described as soft around the edges versus run down. Also, it is large. Walk in and you are immediately in the bar. Head far left to the quasi-lounge after going around the pool table, head up the stairs into the first dining room, keep going for something that feels like a living room, check out not one but two patios, and if you really need space, reserve the basement.
The full bar has a lot of vodka, including infused, and offers a large list of mixed drinks and a smattering of eastern European beers. over the course a few visits, the dining areas were rarely full, but the bar was often full.
Our meal started with “Placki ziemniaczane,” known stateside as potato pancakes, served with either applesauce or sour cream, which our server provided both due to our indecision.
Not quite hashbrowns, and definitely better, crispy on the outside, soft in the center and hint of cooking oil remaining behind. With sour cream these felt like an appetizer. With the applesauce these felt like dessert.
To be expected, meat is featured across the menu, and wanting to participate in the Polish mores of consumption next up was the Polish Platter, featuring a hearty selection of staples, including the following:
  • schnitzel
  • meatball
  • pierogi
  • white fresh and smoked kielbasa
  • cucumber salad
  • sauerkraut
  • home fried potatoes
  • mushroom sauce
It is hard to go wrong with kielbasa and this was no exception. The pierogies had a tender mouth feel and were offset well by the home fried potatoes. The sauerkraut, while good, did not best the efforts of the Cheeky Monk. The only dissent voiced over this particular dish, was the cucumber salad, which was inundated in sour cream. Otherwise, it provided an excellent tour of the menu at a quantity to satisfy three people.
I typically do not eat this hearty nor heavy, which is the reason I would be hesitant to return. Yet, if one is looking for a meal that is focused around meat and potatoes, and beyond the four walls of your standard American steakhouse, then Kinga’s is worth a visit.

Kinga's Lounge on Urbanspoon