My buddy Tom had dinner and beers at the new Liam Flynn’s Ale House that’s popped up (along with the migrated Red Emma’s) as part of the “Station North” renovation of the long deserted, former North Avenue Market.
His recounting of the food and atmosphere intrigued me and we went off at the end of May so I could find out what it’s all about… We were able to find a parking spot across the street (FYI – You don’t have to feed the parking meters after 6 pm!) and I got my first look at a very pub-like facade next to some eye catching wall murals. I also couldn’t help but notice the ceiling – instead of the usual fiberboard ceiling tiles, the ceiling was fitted out with plywood panels (I wondered if this was done to shape the acoustics or merely done because Liam had access to a lot of plywood?)
Inside, Liam Flynn’s feels like a casual pub probably should feel! There’s a long bar with about 18 seats and a dozen tables scattered about.
There’s a raised level about 3 feet higher (with both steps and a ramp for access) with a piano and where celtic musicians are known to congregate and start playing.
The menu is reasonably price and unique in some ways. The “Toasties” (aka sandwiches) are available in whole ($8) or half size ($4) portions. Similarly, salads and a few dinner pies are available in whole ($10) or half size ($5) portions. To place an order, you grab menu’s from the bartender, decide on what you want and then go back to the bar to have the bartender place your order. When your food is ready, the bartenders bring it to where ever you’re sitting whether you’re at the bar or at one of the nearby tables. Yup, this would all probably work a whole lot more smoothly either if the only people wanting food were sitting at the bar! <Smile>
We decided to start by sharing a “Scotch Egg” and opted for the “Roasted Fennel” sausage surround. The “egg” arrived split already in half (making it all the easier for two people to share!) The sausage was quite savory and we gave it a “Thumbs Up!”
For our main course, we tried a variety of things taking advantages of the “1/2” portions. We ordered a half Reuban “Toastie” along with 1/2 portion of the Hen Pie and a 1/2 portion of the Steak & Ale Pie. The Reuban arrived first and was pretty decent though (The photo was taken after the “1/2” sandwich was cut in half for the two of us to share; Yes, “1/2” Reuban was a decent size to start with and there was a healthy amount of corn beef in the middle!) We understand that the slices of pickle are cut from “made here” pickles (and they were right crunchy and good!)
The “1/2” portion of the “Steak & Ale” pie arrived next. It came in small (may 4″ in diameter?) ramekin along with some toasted butter bread. There were chunks of beef and veggies inside and the bread proved useful for mopping up the gravy. It was good but not memorable (what you’re Irish mother may have cooked up for you for dinner!)
Next to arrive was…. WHAT??? Half a cornish hen with a big Kale salad? Yup! Somewhere between the bartender who took the order, the device that he entered the order into and what the kitchen saw and delivered on, we got a 1/2 a Cornish hen instead of 1/2 of a hen (chicken) pie! The bartender was amazingly copacetic about this and said that he’d bring the 1/2 size hen pie. When I asked if he was going to take back the Cornish hen, he just smiled nicely and told us to keep it and enjoy it on the house! What’s hard to tell from the photo of our unexpected surprise entree was that this 1/2 of a Cornish hen was more like 1/2 of regular chicken (i.e, half again bigger than any Cornish hen I’ve ever encountered!). The chicken was cooked very well and was rather tasty luring us into finishing it off! The kale salad was apparently the menu featured “Waldorf Kale Salad” and included pieces of cranberries, apple and walnuts. While it was a surprise, it also earned out “Thumbs Up!” (and probably deserves a bonus award as “1/2 Bargain”!)
Around 8 pm or so, a couple of guys appeared and started playing some celtic themed music with an unusual combination of bag pipes and an accordion! The two of them made some great music and John at least was amazed at the speed of accordion player’s fingers!
The bottom line for Liam Flynn’s Ale House is that while the food was good and very reasonably priced and if the service was a tad haphazard, there were a heck of a lot of draft beers and with the addition of some “pro bono” rollicking Irish music, all the things that might have gotten me in a tizzy didn’t seem to matter and we left both ready to return for more!
FACTS: Liam Flynn’s Ale House – Station North – 22 W. North Ave.; http://pintsizepub.com ; Open 7 days a week; Mon-Sat 12 pm – 2 am; Sun 1 pm to 12 am; full bar; limited menu with vegetarian options; on street parking or park at the garage across from “The Charles” cinema for just $2.
DiningOut Suggestion: Right next door is the new home of the semi-radical Red Emma’s Cafe and Bookstore; It’s a pleasant looking space with Wi-Fi and an interesting menu of vegan food. Who knows? One of their big vegan cookies could make a nice dessert after listening to some Celtic music at Liam Flynn’s…