Plentiful pub grub with an Irish accent

We’ve been covering the Kids’ Table beat for more than a year now, and in that span we’ve done a lot of culinary globetrotting, from Mexican to Peruvian, Greek to Thai. But for whatever reason, we’ve managed to miss covering the cuisines of our own family’s heritage – German and Irish.

So we figured it was time to expose Brendan and Duncan to more than just bratwurst or shepherd’s pie, both staples around our house. Molly Darcy’s, the recently opened pub-style restaurant at Clayton’s Seven Gables Inn, looked to be a reasonable place to start, at least for Irish fare.

On our first visit, we were a bit surprised to find the dining room relatively vacant. Still, a few people were sipping beers in the bar area, U2 was playing over the speakers, and the walls were dutifully covered with mirrors and posters extolling Guinness and any number of Irish whiskies.

The boys quickly agreed on a cozy U-shaped booth near the kitchen, and our server appeared almost immediately to take drink orders. Unfortunately, she was something of a fish out of water, unfamiliar with the beers on tap and ill-prepared for our questions about the menu.

Fortunately, the menu is brief, the cuisine straightforward. Since there was no kids’ menu, we ordered for the boys from the appetizer list. For Duncan, we got the sausage rolls, and Brendan – now capable of reading practically anything – latched onto the cheese plate. Kathy chose the chicken-salad sandwich, while I went for the meatloaf ... comfort food if ever there was.

There wasn’t a whole lot to keep the boys occupied while we waited for our orders, though Brendan was curious about why he saw the word “Guinness” just about everywhere he looked, so I briefly explained the “black stuff.” Duncan kept his eyes glued to ESPN highlights across the room.

Our food was fairly quick to arrive. We were a bit surprised when sausage rolls (plural) turned out to be sausage roll (singular), but a few seconds of knife work allowed for equitable portions for both boys. Duncan completely ignored the “roll” part anyway, discarding it and eating just the sausage, while Brendan’s half scarcely touched his plate before disappearing.

Otherwise, our plates were generously filled. Two slices of meatloaf – finished with a fast sear on the grill – topped a savory puddle of mashed potatoes and gravy on my plate. Kathy’s sandwich was stuffed with a thick layer of creamy chicken, Craisins, grapes and more, and the accompanying sweet potato fries were spilling off the plate. 

Brendan’s cheese plate included large slabs of three varieties, as well as half a wheel of Boursin and some fresh fruit. And while none of the cheeses was bad – certainly not to our boys! – to an adult, the selection was mediocre. Pepper Jack and dill Havarti have their place, but not among (as the menu claims) “Europe’s finest cheeses.” Most disappointing, given the country’s rich cheese-making heritage, was that none of the selections was Irish.

Dessert smoothed things over, though. Kathy had a gooey wild blueberry cobbler, and the boys split a chocolate concoction that would have been the darkest thing at the table but for my dessert: a creamy pint of that “black stuff.” The dessert selections do change frequently.

Seats closer to the bar meant a better angle for the TV set on our second trip. Crunchy breadsticks and a crock of cheese spread gave us all something to nosh on while we perused the menu.

Brendan recognized crab cakes on the menu and wouldn’t be swayed to simpler fare. His persistence got him two ample cakes, served cold on a bed of greens. We could only take his word that they were good; he wasn’t sharing. Duncan was far less enamored of his vegetable soup; he ignored the broth, and settled for eating just the veggies.

Kathy had a bountiful steak sandwich, cooked perfectly to order and topped with fried onions. My fish and chips also came in a large portion, though I was a bit surprised when the chips turned out to be what the Irish would call “crisps.”

The boys were tired, so we told them dessert wasn’t an option. While I settled up, Kathy took them on a walk to see the hotel’s lobby. I emerged to find them each clutching a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie and a cup of milk, courtesy of the hotel’s concierge. Denied dessert, only to get it a few minutes later? For the Carr brothers, the luck of the Irish is alive and well.