Dublin’s modern Irish restaurant opens in downtown Boston

Among the abundance of food On display in Boston restaurants, Irish food doesn’t get much attention, despite the city’s love of Irish pubs. Because just what he is Irish food? Hint: It’s not the chicken wings and mozzarella sticks at your favorite pub. Not the corned beef and cabbage either, which is “not a thing in Ireland,” according to Chef Aidan McGee of County Donegal in Ireland.

Then consider Dublin, which Mc Gee opened across from Boston City Hall on June 27, as a gift to a city with such a deep connection to Ireland. The Refined Irish Pub – a partnership between Executive Chef and owner McG, owners Oran Mc Gonagle and Will Mc Carthy, and East Coast Tavern Group – focuses on how people eat in Ireland today. Think fresh, local proteins and vegetables; courtship with Scandinavian short-back preparations; and dishes that McG has perfected throughout his two-decade career at Michelin-starred restaurants in Great Britain, most recently as Executive Chef for Corrigan Group. He also draws inspiration from his childhood on a farm in Ireland where his former chef father had grown vegetables and raised a rare breed of Irish lamb for over sixty years.

The menu showcases the beauty of fresh Irish bread. Here, sourdough oatmeal and Irish soda bread — mouthwatering slices await Kerrygold butter — are pictured with house-smoked salmon. The salmon is smoked cold with aged whiskey wood chips and served with capers, horseradish and tarragon cream, adding richness to the lemon and lime notes for a light treat.

After 14 years in London, McGee and his wife Heather recently moved to Boston. She began her career testing nuclear weapons at Harvard University. He had visited here before, and in a bit of a kismet, Kinsale – the former occupant of the Dubliner space – was the first pub to try. “Was it fate?” He asks with laughter. “I don’t know.”

This is his chance to design a menu himself for the first time. Opening offerings include pearl barley pancakes (“like Irish arancini,” he notes) and house-smoked salmon, Scotch eggs, along with a delicious smoked pork terrine. There’s plenty of greens, too: a cabbage salad topped with imported Irish cheese and pine nuts, plus a Vermont burrata with marinated tomatoes, lemon cider vinegar, and honey. Classics like fish and chips and shepherd’s pie sing along with elevated Mc Gee preparations. Then there’s the home-baked Irish soda bread topped with crab, mayonnaise, lemon, and green onions. Mc Gee thinks it’s the “Irish lobster roll” that symbolizes the menu’s “If New England Married Ireland” ambiance.

Booths under a wall with old signage in an upscale Irish pub.

Kiosk seating in Dublin’s front pub area features décor drawn from an enclosed bar and shipped from Ireland, including a Bowers whiskey mirror.

The menu will change with the seasons, and diners can expect venison and cranberries to come in the fall. What will remain, however, is the unwavering focus on imported Irish artisanal cheese – smoked oak cheese from Cork to rich Crozier Blue sheep cheese from Tipperary – in partnership with Bord Bia, the Dublin-based Irish Food Council. Diners can try a ride that combines cheese and whiskey from each of Ireland’s four counties and then travel through the rest of the 60-person whiskey list.

McGee, too, hopes Dublin will be the destination for his Sunday roast — with Yorkshire pudding, gravy, and all the trimmings — that Sunday times Once crowned as the best in Britain. “It’s comfort food, and it’s kind of like home,” he says. “That is hospitality. If you invite someone to your house, you feed them, you give them as much love as possible, and that is what we want to do.”

A bowl of Irish seafood soup.

Dublin’s Irish seafood stew, which McGee calls “a bowl of the sea,” features oysters, salmon, smoked salmon skin, mussels, cod, and sliced ​​potatoes, with a hint of olive oil and fresh tarragon. It’s surprisingly light and flavorful, compared to a New England stew that looks like bread or flour for fish, although it’s still rich and creamy.

Since Sunday roasting has been enjoyed in the UK and Ireland for generations, it’s perhaps no surprise that the astonishing design of these 8,300-square-foot toast tips past. Dubliner is meant to feel like a Victorian Irish pub with a bit of class, with upholstered seating, antique wallpaper, and grandfather clocks from local antiques stores. The back bar features a custom wall made of three antique Georgian fireplace mantels and etched glass mirrors. The team drew décor like the Bowers Whiskey Mirror from a closed pub in Ireland.

The massive layout lends itself to a do-it-yourself adventure, divided between two rooms. Hang out by the livelier pub for after-work drinks and a casual meal, or visit the lounge for a quieter dinner service paired with live music from both local artists and musicians from Ireland. Then there’s the patio, where people can crush frozen margaritas all summer long.

It’s something the team has wanted to do for a while, says owner Mc Gonagle, who also hails from Donegal: “to create the biggest Irish pub in Boston but really raise it to the bar in terms of things like service.”

Wooden bar with glass wall and wine bottles.

The lounge area bar, with its custom wall made of three antique Georgian fireplace mantels and engraved glass mirrors, displays a range of fine whiskeys.

Tables and chairs under a sign that says

Part of the back lounge will be cleared of tables and chairs to create a stage area for live music.

And what is a pub without spilling? “It’s such a great thing in Ireland that Guinness is being presented to people,” says Mc Gonagle. Besides training the staff on perfect casting, the team designed their own 20-ounce tulip-shaped glass, “which was originally used for Guinness Ireland,” he says, rather than the brand’s modern gravity glass. Beyond beer, there are cocktails like the Dubliner, a twist on Manhattan, with Irish Roe & Co whiskey, orange, bitter liqueur, and green maraschino cherry, and a carefully crafted whiskey list that includes notable menus like the 27-year-old Redbreast and single aged single malt 24 years old.

After a few agonizing years for the industry, Mc Gee is delighted to see the recent wave of bars and restaurants opening in the city, and to invite people back to downtown once again. He is already looking to the future. “This is the first bigger picture,” he says. “Then we’ll get to a Boston fine dining experience of authentic Irish cuisine, on the scale of something like French Laundry, which is very innovative. It’s going to happen, and you’re the first to tell.”

Smoked pork terrine served with apple puree, celery salad and apple salad.

Dublin’s slow-cooked smoked ham, McGee says, is a “small dish,” served with burnt apple puree with celery, apple, and tarragon. Tip: Enjoy the trio on top of a slice of Irish soda bread for a smoky, creamy taste that’s nice on the palate.

A glass of Guinness beer served with Irish arancini.

The Dubliner puts special emphasis on the Guinness “perfect pour”—note the foam dome on top—presented here in a custom 20-ounce tulip glass with “Irish arancini.” Arancini is made with pearl barley and “large amounts of Irish cheese,” says McGee, and is served with mayonnaise and parsley.

Dublin (2 Center Plaza, Boston) opens June 27 and will operate from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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