Often, pub food can be merely a necessity to pair some form of eats to go with a beverage (or two or three...). Therefore, it can be rather uninspiring and generally not very tasty. I guess it wouldn't matter if one was inebriated right? Well, things have definitely changed with the popularization of the gastropub many years back. I've been to quite a few of these places in the last 8 years and I have come away impressed with many of them. It's like one doesn't even need to drink at the pub to have a good time! Yah right! Anyways, a bunch of us went for a menu tasting at Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub to see if they could tickle our palates in addition to pickling it.
Since it was a menu-tasting, we got a wide array of plates including the classic Scotch Egg sporting an on point soft yolk egg. Even the egg white was lightly cooked where it wasn't rubbery. Encasing this was a balanced layer of Guinness sausage that was moist with a meaty rebound texture. It was fairly mild, but did have the rich finish of the Guinness. Underneath, the piccalilli sauce was slightly acidic and appealingly tart. Served on grilled sourdough, the Black Pudding Toasties were pleasant despite the visuals. Personally, I love blood sausage, so it didn't bother me. I thought the caramelized onion jam and side of mustard were necessary to vary the flavours and especially a bite (with the mustard).
As much as I wanted to avoid the Maple Kale & Chicken Salad because I'm a meatatarian, I gave it a shot anyways. Turns out it was actually not bad with fresh baby kale, roasted butternut squash, beer-brined chicken, dried cherries, almonds and sweet potato chips. The varied textures and sweetness of the ingredients made the salad interesting. The restrained usage of the maple mustard vinaigrette kept the kale from wilting and not totally drenching the salad in sweet acidity. The one thing that could've been better was the chicken as it was a bit dry. Staying with veggies, we tried the Brussels Sprouts roasted with bacon and broiled with Dubliner cheese and some lemon. I found the sprouts to be cooked just enough that they retained a firm texture. The bacon was apparent as well as the melted cheese. For me, I prefer sprouts that are fried, but these were good for the manner they were prepared.
Onto the larger dishes, I dug into the Steak & Guinness Pie first. Baked in a cast iron skillet, the pie was served bubbling hot. The crust was flaky and buttery while the filling featured chunks of succulent beef. I definitely got the hits of Guinness which was nicely cooked-down in a rich gravy. It was good that the salt content was not heavy either. The side of fries were fantastic being hot, crispy and completely potatoey inside. Barely fitting onto the plate, the Traditional Fry Up boasted 2 over-easy eggs, peameal bacon, 2 Rivers banger, Oyama black pudding, roasted tomato, fried potatoes, house-baked beans and sourdough toast. The eggs were appealingly runny where it was perfect for dunking the crispy sourdough. I enjoyed the black pudding much like in the appie and the banger was meaty and lean. I found the pea meal bacon rather dry though.
Continuing with another breakfast item, the Boxty Benny featured whiskey-cured steelhead with poached eggs, tomato, Irish muffin, Hollandaise and fried potatoes. Of the 4 we were served, half of the eggs were medium and the other half were runny. However, even with the medium eggs, the whites were buttery (not rubbery). I found the Hollandaise creamy and mild-tasting, possibly in need of more lemon. The Irish muffin was definitely interesting with an airy egginess to it. There was definitely enough steelhead to make an impact in terms of flavour and texture. From this, I moved directly to the Lamb Shank with pearl barley risotto. I found most of the meat to be gelatinous and tender with a mild gaminess (with some exterior portions being dry). The sauce was mildly meaty and could've used a bit more salt.
We were served 2 burgers including a veggie option. Despite what you may think, I tried the Veg Burger first. The patty was made of navy beans, chickpeas, mushrooms, carrots, zucchini and toasted spices. As such, the texture was akin to a mix of thick hummus and dense mash potatoes. It was sandwiched in between toasted brioche with chipotle mayo, salsa verde, sprouts, tomato and butter lettuce. It was better than I expected, but in the end, I enjoyed the Central Burger more due to my own biases. It consisted of a 6 oz St. Helen's beef patty, pulled pork, stout BBQ sauce, Dubliner cheese, pickles, chipotle mayo, tobacco onions and lettuce. It was a good-looking burger and although the meat wasn't exactly juicy, it wasn't exactly dry either. I found the flavours to be on the sweeter side with a touch of smokiness.
One last meat dish, the Main St. Meatloaf was pretty robust with minimal grease. I found the glaze tart and flavourful. As much as the Guinness onion gravy was peppery and deeply flavoured, I thought the glaze was so impactful in bringing the dish alive, there should've been more to provide balance. Undreneath, the mashed potatoes were robust and starchy where it was a good base for the gravy. For dessert, we were served the Central Sundae with Guinness, Bailey's, caramel ice cream layered with chocolate and caramel sauce topped with an Irish lace cookie, whipping cream, sprinkles and candied walnuts. Surprisingly, this was not a shockingly sweet as the ingredients suggested. This was creamy, sweet with a caramelized depth and lightly kissed with alcohol. Loved the crunch of the walnuts too. Just like the rest of the food, the dessert basically epitomized the menu at Dubh Linn Gate - they don't try to stray too far from classic pub food. That is a good thing as they don't try to be what they are not, where they offer up good eats to go with your drink.
*All food and beverages were complimentary*
- Solid eats for a pub
- Actual Irish pub atmosphere
- Food is of course heavy, but that's how it is supposed to be
- Some proteins could be more moist