Kelsey’s Irish Pub first opened back around 1994 as part of a set of “strip” stores hidden from off from the view of drivers on Route 40 in “greater” Ellicott City (for those of you who have 2x or 3x or more years under your belt,they’ve been open for about 20 years!). Pulling up in front you’ll find sidewalk tables probably bustling and full on a nice evening. Inside, you’ll find a long bar that’s very popular (with a crowd that can quite rowdy and boisterous when there’s an “O’s” or Raven’s game on the flat screen TV’s, it’s a good thing that the bar is separate from the dining room.
In the recently refurbished pleasant dining room, you’ll find booths with a few tables (and yes, a couple of discretely place flat screen TV’s with the volume turned down)
Kelsey’s menu includes a dozen appetizers ($8-$11), “made here” soups (a bowl of “Kick’in Corn & Crab” is $7), “Eatin of the Greens” (aka entree salads – $9-$14), a dozen and half “Between the Breads” (aka Sandwiches which are mostly $9 to $12 and include your choice of hand-cut French fries, “made here” cole slaw, apple sauce or kettle chips) and a dozen entrees ($11-$18 – including some Irish items like Corn Beef & Cabbage and Shepherd’s Pie). My buddy Tom and I decided to start by sharing a plate of Guiness Mussells ($11); I decided on the “Black & Blue Steak” salad ($14) while Tom opted (with a bit of a wee nudge from our waitress) for the “Mollie Malone’s Meatloaf” ($13).
The mussels arrive in Guiness and bacon cream sauce with grilled (still warm!) bread and basil aioli. (Unusual? Definitely! Delicious and earning our “Thumbs Up!”? Very definitely!).
Tom’s meatloaf included one big slab of meatloaf with green beans and mashed potatoes (Plus a bowl of the delicious gravy just in case…) Tom commented that the meatloaf was first rate and very tasty, the beans tasted like they had been cooked fresh and weren’t out of a can and that the mashed potatoes were made from real potatoes. If you hadn’t guessed, all of that added up to a hearty “Thumbs Up!” from Tom for his entree!
John’s salad quickly proved to be earning another big “Thumbs Up!”. There was a generous amount of steak which arrived hot off the grill and cooked exactly medium rare as he had requested. Topped with roasted onions, bacon bits (real and not faux!), tomatoes and bits of blue cheese (along with a blue cheese dressing that had more chunks of blue cheese). Ordinarily, John would consider $14 for an entree salad to be pricey but he left feeling that his “Black & Bleu Steak” salad was good value.
Our waitress was friendly but wonderfully attentive and competent. Particularly noteworthy was how quickly she reacted to our requests for more bread (to sop up the delicious Mussels broth) and John’s request for some additional blue cheese dressing. (Even nicer, no extra charge showed up on our bill for these special requests)
This wasn’t our first dinner at Kelsey’s and we’re betting that the reason that they remain so popular is that Kelsey’s owners are top of their game and the food and service is so consistently good that customers come back.
FACTS: Kelsey’s Irish Pub and Restaurant – 8480 Baltimore National Pike; Ellicott City; 410-418-9076; http://www.kelseysrestaurant.com ; Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner; 11 am to 2 am Monday – Saturday; 10 am to midnight on Sunday; Brunch menu on Sunday; vegetarian options (DiningOUT last visit on 5/22/14)