I grew up in a northern city where there’s an Irish pub in just about every neighborhood, so whether you had Irish heritage or not, you grew up with the cuisine of the Emerald Isle. I didn’t realize how much I missed that until I stopped in Maguire’s before the theater with a group of friends. Maguire’s is everything I remember; sassy waitresses (nothing as trendy as servers for these gals), good comfort food and décor that looks like it’s straight out of the 1980s.
Before you think that sassy waitress comment means, fun sassy, like on a television show, let me stop you right there. The woman handling our table started out on the wrong foot by making a big deal about how inconvenient it was going to be to do separate checks. She stated, "That's going to be a problem."
I looked her square in the eye and said, “I don’t see why.” (that’s practically expected in SoFlo). After that, she warmed up to us. By the time the meal was well underway, the servers couldn’t have been more attentive or personable. Maybe she finally realized that she had a group of gay men (we tend to be better tippers). Serving us also seemed to be a group effort, as many different waitresses brought our dishes to the table. That allowed us to all be served at somewhat the same time, however, it also led to a lot of “auctioning off’ of plates; as in “Who had the chicken curry?”
Related: Worshipping at the Temple
Many of us started our meal with a cup of soup. The options on the night of our visit was the regular offering of Irish potato soup, a thick, creamy base (any thicker and it would have been mashed potatoes) topped with grated cheddar, bacon and chopped scallions. The daily special, pea soup featured a few chopped vegetables and ham, but was a little lacking in flavor. Both soups ($3.50 cup) could have been a tad warmer. Someone tell those folks they’ve got to stir up the soup in the warmers and ladle from the bottom.
Entrees were hearty and filling, even if some were more successful than others. The lamb stew was delicious and tender with plenty of lamb as well as potatoes, onions and carrots. The gravy of the stew was also rich and flavorful. But, as one of my dining partners noted; “The dish already had potatoes; it didn’t need additional mashed potatoes on top.” As far as I’m concerned you can never have too many potatoes. But, that’s why he’s a skinny bitch and I’m not.
Chicken curry featured a generous portion of tender chicken breast in a fragrant curry sauce, served over a bed of rice with a side of chutney. The portion was very large considering the $12.95 tab, but it proved to be a little too salty. I got luckier with Tara’s chicken pot pie. I don’t know who Tara is, but she makes a perfect chicken pot pie filling; creamy white sauce, tender veggies and moist pieces of chicken breast. I would have preferred a real crust on the top, instead of the two triangles of (pre-packaged, I’m sure) puff pastry. But then again, for $13.95, it was quite a bargain.
We expected the Irish Dip sandwich to be a variation on the French version, but it was actually a run of the mill French dip; served with fries and cole slaw. There’s always one at every table that goes to an ethnic place and orders something that’s not a specialty of that cuisine. In this one, it was the Irish guy in the group. He opted for the Maguire’s Salad; basically, your standard chef’s salad; ham, turkey, cheddar and Swiss cheese on a bed of mixed greens, with hard-boiled egg, cucumber, tomatoes and Bermuda onion.
Wine and beers are reasonably priced. The Bailey’s chocolate pie had precious little Bailey's flavor. The crust fell away from it too readily, so the freezer's damage had been done. Cheesecake, is supposedly homemade, and is available with chocolate or caramel sauce (both out of a jar, no doubt).
Maguire’s offers some comforting stick-to-the-ribs fare, but it’s not enough to make you hop up and do a jig.
Maguire’s Hill 16
535 N Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Kingshead Pub & Restaurant
2692 N. University Dr., Sunrise
900 E. Atlantic, Pompano Beach
Serves up many favorites beyond the expected; including sticky toffee, steak and ale pie, and bangers and mash. Football (or soccer, for you Yanks) games stream live.
The Field Irish Pub
3281 Griffin Rd., Fort Lauderdale
Live music most nights livens up the place.
The Pub Pembroke
237 SW. 145th Ter., Pembroke Pines
The menu expands beyond the borders of the British Isles, with hummus and tacos, but there are some Irish staples on hand.