Dublin Square: Irish hospitality for strangers and madmen alike

Vanessa Gomez
City Times

“All members of the tribe are required to offer hospitality to strangers; the only exceptions are minor children, madmen, and old people.”

These words are the first you see when you enter the Dublin Square Irish Pub and Grill, an authentic Irish escape in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp District, located on Fourth Avenue between Island and Market. Famous for its lively bar scene, we venture further into the restaurant to sample some true Irish eats in the spirit of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Holiday.

The Horse Shoe Bar is a replica of Kilkenny’s 19th Century Tynan Bridge House Bar, made from solid Irish oak, and every detail has been reproduced, down to the moldings, panels, and hand carvings. The sign over the bar claims that “only Guinness sold here,” when truly the bar boasts over 14 imported and domestic beers on tap, including Harp, Smithwick’s, Bass and Strongbow, a hard cider. European football broadcasts on multiple LCDs surrounding the dining area and bar. Hostesses in jumpers and suspenders take you through the dark, roomy restaurant to one of the many tables adorned by Guinness pelican decor. Typical British rock/pop and Irish bands such as U2 and Flogging Molly filled our ears as we sat down for our trip to Ireland.

The first plate was the very traditional, moderately-sized Shepherd’s Pie ($13) which brought the feeling of warm, home cooked treats to our palate. The crust was not a crust at all, but a floating pool of garlic mashed potatoes just sitting on top of the mixture of meat and potatoes. The potatoes really took over the dish, piping hot and a great consistency of chunky and smooth potato. The crumbled ground beef and rough cut potatoes blended together in a warm stew that lacked a bit of salt, but stayed true to traditional Irish cooking, that replies more on herbs than pouring on the sodium. We couldn’t get enough of the accompanying Irish soda bread, made fresh daily. This crispy, melt-in-your mouth dipping bread really fizzled like soda down our throats. We only wish we had a whole loaf of that soda goodness alone.

Boxty’s, grilled potato pancakes prepared from the original Galway recipe in Western Ireland, were next to grace our table. Our first impression of the Tynan’s Beef Boxty ($15) was reminiscent of the jumbo burritos San Diego Mexican eateries are famous for. With further investigation, we were pleased to find out that our “tortilla” was really a potato pancake, a thicker consistency than the French crepe and two steps down from egg bread. The super tender sirloin tips, soaked in Guinness and cooked just to the right temperature, were swimming in dark brown gravy that was surprisingly light to the taste; yet another surprising illusion of the dish. The drizzle of cashel blue cheese sauce made the “burrito” complete, as the creamy, alfredo-like cheese sauce was an excellent contrast to the Guinness-soaked steak tips.

What dinner is complete without dessert, and our Irish adventure would not be without ordering the Irish Bread Pudding ($6.95) the house specialty and the perfect end to our pre St. Patty’s Day smorgasbord. The overwhelming serving, enough for a party of four, truly satisfied the sweet tooth with a warm blend of cinnamon and sweet Irish whiskey sauce. The sweet strawberry slices were a nice accompaniment to the spongy, sauce soaked egg bread. This gooey concoction of plump raisins and sweet eggy deliciousness blended together in true harmony. We were left spinning not from the Irish whiskey sauce, but the satisfaction of a great restaurant experience, for strangers and madmen alike.

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Dublin Square: Irish hospitality for strangers and madmen alike