Restaurant review: Pub Mahone

G.A. Benton
Cottage Pie with Side Salad and Fish n' Chips

Got your green outfit picked out yet?

Yes, National “Everyone Chug” Day, aka St.Patrick's Day, happens again Saturday, March 17. Depending on your outlook, that's likely the best time or the worst time to find yourself in an Irish pub.

Date of visit aside, though, it's good to know that if you're looking to hoist a few Downtown, and you'd enjoy spending that time in an Irish-themed establishment that serves thematically appropriate grub, Pub Mahone has you covered.

Taking its name from a literally in-your-face Gaelic phrase similar in spirit to “Kiss my Shamrock,” Pub Mahone is the uncommon spacious Downtown watering hole that showcases sports on TVs. Other features in the cube-shaped, modern room: Gaelic Athletic Association flags draped across a high ceiling; pew-like laminate tables; an irreverent tableau starring a mannequin dressed as a reverend; a live-music stage; a mini-basketball game; and folks letting their hair down after work.

In addition to several Irish beers on tap, a multi-style Guinness sampler ($8) is offered. So is Kilkenny, a light Irish cream ale that's exceedingly rare in Columbus. More ambitious imbibers might try a flight of Irish whiskeys ($17).

You can also try Irish hard cider — in your food — by ordering the Galway Bay Infused Mussels ($10). Served with thick and hearty rye toast, it's a bowl of shellfish (I wish fewer were unopened) resting in a bold butter/cider/garlic broth. Garnishes include diced tomatoes and onions, plus shaved parmesan, which amps up the substantial saltiness.

The dish tastes good, but mine had a bit of grit, plus cool and scalding spots. I encountered similar temperature gradients in other meals, which suggests that the quick-arriving, house-made food is reheated to order here sometimes.

The solid Fish N' Chips ($12) could be called Fish N' Chips N' Tons More Chips. A single but sizable piece of flaky cod encased in crisp, not-too-oily beer batter is partnered with first-rate house tartar sauce plus an imposing boatload of good, little hand-cut fries. Like other dishes, it reassures patrons they needn't worry about an Irish potato famine ever occurring at Pub Mahone.

The pleasant Bangers and Mash ($12), a British Isles classic, is another tuber-happy entree. Three properly seared bangers — soft-textured sausages made with pork lightened by grain-based fillings and winter spices — are served with overly stiff mashed red potatoes, innocuous house gravy and a vegetable du jour (on my visit, nicely grilled thin asparagus).

Stiff broiler-browned mashers form the casserole cap of the comforting if modest-sized Cottage Pie ($12). Underneath the spud “crust,” the simple but satisfying pie contains a filling made with ground beef, carrots, peas and house gravy that together tastes like beef stew.

House-roasted, tender, salt-restrained corned beef adorns another entree with abundant potatoes: Boxty Mahone ($10). Two boxties — Irish-style potato pancakes that here resemble hash brown patties — form the base for a sort of open-faced sandwich. Joining the good corned beef as toppings are soft and sweet, long-cooked cabbage leaves, plus lashings of “Mahone sauce,” a condiment that recalls horseradish-spiked mustard blended with Thousand Island dressing.

You can add a hefty side to your meal for $3. If seeking vegetables more healthful than potatoes, the straightforward house Cole Slaw can get the job done. So can the small Pub Salad, which includes cucumbers, butter lettuce, beets and shredded cheddar, and will probably be dressed with something from a bottle. Both sides are OK if hardly remarkable.

Likely the most vibrant greens you'll see in Pub Mahone won't be on a plate — they'll be worn by revelers on St. Patrick's Day.Whether you show up then or not, it's nice to know this lunch spot and convenient evening hangout is now available in the heart of Downtown.

Pub Mahone

31 E. Gay St., Downtown