By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
One of our favorite magazines, Philadelphia Magazine, also known as Philly Mag, recently published an issue focusing on the best bars in Philly. A great piece listing some of our favorite bars, we decided to venture to any of the bars that we’ve never been to. Our first stop was at Molly Maguire’s Irish Restaurant & Pub in Lansdale PA, about 15-20 minutes outside of city limits. A menu full of original Irish food recipes such as bangers and mash, boxtys, Irish stew and fish and chips, we were looking forward to trying some food items usually not on every average bar menu.
The tap list featured some standard Irish beers such as Guinness, Harp, and Smithwicks and a few other craft beers; the best was perhaps the Pennsylvania Brewing Pale Ale, a flat out stud. But the tap list was nothing to write home about as two of the taps were taken by fruit beers. Usually, when someone orders a fruit beer, they don’t care if it comes from a tap or a bottle, therefore, why waste two taps that could be used for a craft IPA or Imperial Stout, or even two more Irish beers. But hey, tap lines change over quick so this might not be standard.
The restaurant was only at about 2/3’s capacity which is about normal for a Thursday night; however, at times it seemed that the bartender ignored us as we were sitting at the bar with glasses empty. There were no lines at the door, no lines at the bar and many tables open. Tough enough to get a beer, although we managed, the food was basically a nightmare.
We started with the Scotch egg for an appetizer, which consisted of two hard boiled eggs, wrapped in ground roast pork and deep fried, served with spicy mustard. It was pretty good actually. We also went with a spinach salad that was solid, nothing special but still good.
Then, we went with the Yellow Jack Boxty, “An 8 ounce Prime Beef Patty chopped up with Rashers, lettuce, tomato, red onion and special sauce.” The problem was that when I started eating it, the meat was burnt but the entire boxty was actually cold. Maybe a boxty is supposed to be cold? We’ve have a few before and they weren’t cold, but maybe it’s the signature Molly Maguire style. Then, we went on to try the side of mashed potatoes. Cold! Yup, cold mashed potatoes. An Irish pub served us cold mash potatoes. The one thing an Irish bar must do is served their potatoes correct, period. When we complained to the bartender, she told us they would take the food back. When we asked if they would make me a new plate of just heat up the old one, the bartender replied that they would probably just microwave the dish that I had started eating. Nice! That’s just what I need, a more dried out and shittier more overcooked boxty. A few minutes later we overheard another couple at the bar complaining that their food was cold, the entrée and mashed potatoes.
The highlight of the night was the Molly’s Mac and Cheese, a Penne pasta baked with Rashers and creamy aged cheddar cheese, topped with toasted bread crumbs and a dash of parmesan cheese. This dish was very good; however the portion was small, came with no side and cost about $13.
When the manager finally came out after multiple complaints by the patrons, he decided to comp us 1 beer. Not one beer each, simply one beer.
All in all, the food was bad and cold, the service was bad and the food was slightly overpriced for what it is. Although the bartender was nice, her service was suspect as well. Our thoughts for Molly Maguire’s is that they’re not experienced enough or have the capacity to come with real authentic Irish food and should stick to the bar food basics, deep fried dishes with French fries, that’s it. Although there were a couple good beers, they must pay more attention to the craft beer trends as there is limited tap space. In this day an age of craft beer mania, every tap counts. Philly Mag might list this place as a top bar, but it needs some serious work. There are two other locations of Molly Maguire’s, on in Phoenixville and one in Downingtown.