DELMAR — How popular is O’Slattery’s?
“I was talking about it in the doctor’s office,” my friend Patrice said, “when a woman nearby apologized for interrupting, but had to say how much she liked it there.”
From Delaware Avenue, the O’Slattery’s facade evokes an Irish pub, with painted blue-gray wood with the name in Gaelic gold lettering. If you squint, you can block out the rest of the modern two-story commercial building. We had to go around the back to enter, which loses some of the effect, but has a more neighborly feel with a sidewalk of sorts between other businesses and another property’s patio nearby.
Inside is charming, with cozy bar to the right, the restaurant’s name across a brick wall, long wood bar and those high tables, and dining room to the left, more wood on the walls and pale green paint, with paintings of Irish castles and countryside. They do the best they can with new construction to make it feel like a pub.
There’s a very large television screen in the dining room but thankfully, the sound was off. And keep in mind all those hard surfaces mean the place may get loud when it’s full.
The menu is a mix of Irish and American popular casual food. Start with a Guinness brisket chili ($7) or Irish chowder ($6) and choose from a bountiful selection of salads, burgers, sandwiches and entrees, all reasonably priced. A burger on a pretzel bun with French fries is $11. Irish specialties include cottage pie (made with beef and correctly named, thank you, $17) and bangers and mash ($17). If you’re not feeling Irish, order the Tex-Mex, a grilled chicken breast sandwich or portobello burger ($13).
You’ll find something you like.
In addition to the regular domestic bottled beers, O’Slattery’s has on tap a rotating selection of local and domestic beers, some from microbreweries, as well as Guinness, Harp and Kilkenny’s Irish Cream Ale.
I’m not doing O’Slattery’s any favors by telling you this, but the “Snack Size” fish and chips appetizer ($11) on its own is a satisfying, hearty meal. Or share as an appetizer, as we did.
There is a lot to be said for good fish and chips, and all of it can be said for O’Slattery’s version: flaky, delicately flavored white fish, ethereal, crackling batter browned and cooked without an extra drop of fat.
“I’m not a fish-and-chips person,” said Patrice. “But these are delicious,” she said, then, “mind if I take the last piece?”
I didn’t, as the fries are my favorite part and they were as good as the fish. They looked hand-cut, into right-sized wedges with the skin. All was topped with flakes of crunchy salt and flecks of parsley. Heated the next day, the fries were still way better than average. Even cold, they were good.
The Kilkenny Bookmaker ($14) is a hearty steak sandwich of sliced sirloin topped with sautéed onions and mushrooms and melted cheddar cheese on a ciabatta roll. I skipped the garlic aioli.
At order time, the server looked me in the eye and asked how I wanted my steak done. “Medium rare,” I replied, eyeing him back, with emphasis on the rare.
O’Slattery’s get points for providing good quality bread and toasting it perfectly, and for using a whole small sirloin steak. The mushroom flavor was fully developed, but the onion would need a lot more time in the pan to get to the complex browned and caramelized stage, which was longer than I would have wanted to wait.
The steak was just past medium despite the stink eye, with the satisfying chew and flavor of a sirloin. Sliced thin, with just a little marinade, the meat might lose some of the ruggedness that makes it a challenge when presented in a sandwich. But one half of the sandwich went down well.
Patrice said the Dublin Gobbler ($12) tasted like it was made with fresh roasted turkey. Indeed, the slices looked thick and meaty, like from a real bird. The green apple was a tangy contrast and she called the sandwich “Really delicious.” I liked the looks of the substantial multi-grain bread and its grill marks, and the melted cheddar oozing out a bit on the sides.
Our sandwiches came with fries, which we’d already sampled, so we substituted a side salad for Patrice and onion rings for me ($2 upcharge). “Impressive salad,” said Patrice, and it was, having been prepared with fresh, colorful ingredients thoughtfully cut into bite-sized pieces with tasty, mustard-tinged balsamic vinaigrette.
The light hand used to fry the fish didn’t cook the black and tan onion rings, which were a bit oily. But they were delicious, nicely browned, wide sliced onions in a tangy, brown-striped tan batter, echoing the beer cocktail made with a pale beer and a light one.
There’s an evident, malty tang to the coating, which is intriguing and tasty, making the black and tan rings more compelling than their plain cousins.
The dining room was quiet on a weekday, but there were plenty of elbows on the bar. We had good service from someone knowledgeable of the menu and the kitchen.
The tab for our meal came to $46.28 with tax, before tip. “Thanks for tomorrow’s lunch, too,” said Patrice.
O’Slattery’s Irish Restaurant & Pub
WHERE: 318 Delaware Ave., Delmar, 518-439-5634, www.oslatterys.com
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m Sunday for brunch, then regular menu until 10 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $46.28 for food, with tax and before tip
MORE INFO: Credit cards: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover. Children’s menu.
Parking lot in rear. ADA compliant.