McGinty's: Sign of Greatness

They're so new, you might just walk or drive right by. “We're waiting on our sign,” the waiter joked about McGinty's Public House in Arlington, Virginia (corner of Route 1 and South Glebe in Harris Teeter/Eclipse Complex) opening its doors just last week. For what it lacked on the outside quite yet, we were more than impressed on the inside, with a sprawling old-fashioned, wood-finished dining room sparkling, glittery and polished. We had passed this space before, and it was barer than Mother Hubbard's Cupboard only a few weeks ago. Now it's stunning on the inside.

The menu was filled with traditional Irish fare, some other classic Irish comforts and of course a bevy of Irish beers on tap from amidst its enormous central bar area. While the menu was filled with terms like rashers and bangers, the waiters were sporting translators and it was fun to learn that these meant roughly bacon and sausage. They had an excellent-looking menu overall and I had a hard time deciding among the full Irish breakfast, Strongbow Cider Glazed Pork over cheddar grits with broccolini or the Guiness BBQ grilled shrimp with grits, ham and broccolini. The huge menu was literally filled with appetizing options – I wish I could list everything.

While they only had one vegetarian entree (crisp white truffle mac and cheese), they made a sporting effort of demarcating all the veggie options. They actually had a few appetizers and all of their sides as vegetarian. The $5 sides were plentiful and interesting, with 13 options including the aforementioned cheddar grits, roasted broccolini, Dubliner fondue, eastern shore slaw and rosemary fries. Julia ended up ordering the broccolini, which was crispy and well flavored, along with the Spring Strudel, which was tasty and crunchy, filled with grilled vegetables, olives and goat cheese and served with a light pesto. She was very satisfied with her order and I enjoyed my bites a lot.

We were also very big fans of their fresh breads and flavored butters. The breads were a nutty, crunchy whole grain bread and big French-style rolls that were warm and soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. They were served with an herb butter and a mango butter. I tried a little of each and the herb butter was fantastic, with rosemary and dill the obvious flavors. The mango butter was not sweet or overbearing, but it was not exactly my favorite.

I ordered the full Irish breakfast after all, which was quite an interesting plate. Along with two eggs any style (“overeasy please, soft”), they served three different types of sausages (bangers, and black and white pudding), brown beans, the aforementioned oven roasted tomatoes, roasted baby fingerlings and sautéed baby portabellas. It was quite a magnificent plate and was very fun to eat all of the elements – especially the ones you typically don't think about in this country. My only problem with the plate was that one of the eggs had a broken and cooked yoke, but the other one was perfect. They were both tasty of course, but I like my eggs done perfectly. Also, the fingerlings were a bit al dente for my taste. But the portabellas were perfectly tender and incredibly flavorful. The tomatoes were warm and filled with great savory tastes and a little crispy cheese on top. All of the sausages were very tasty and not as salty and overpowering as sausages I am used to. I would think of Irish food as being very salty, but this plate was actually left at a normal level of seasoning which was appreciated. This plate was maybe not perfect but it was very tasty and unique above all. I mean how often can you say you eat black pudding?

This is most certainly a very cool new place that I am sure most people would have a lot of fun trying. It's open late (1:30 in the morning) so its bar will go to good use, but the family-friendly side dining rooms make it very versatile for many crowds. And there is even free parking in the Harris Teeter underground lot, so pedestrians and drivers alike can happen here quite easily. This Potomac Yard area is an up-and-coming part of Arlington, and McGinty's might be one of the first real anchoring gems to a future bustling area. And part of that reason is its unique style, charm and food, its friendly service and even its sparkly finish. It's worthy of being a destination, even now. Sign or no sign.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a rising ster, with Chef keller in the heat. Expect well beyond expectations.
Chris Pearmund