- Griffin Swartzell
- Abby’s nails a crisp haddock fish and chips serving.
And yet, there we sit at Abby’s Irish Pub on a gorgeous gloomy evening watching a bartender pour pint after pint of Guinness straight into the bottom of the glass, brutalizing subtle yeast esters. We see this as an indication of a carelessness that runs counter to the attention to detail that good hospitality demands. And given the pedigree of hospitality at owners Megan and Mike Davis’ other food businesses — three Back East Bar & Grill locations, plus Atmosphere Gastropub — we have good reason to expect that from Abby’s.
Cocktails fare somewhat better. We enjoy The Town Friar, a mix of Bushmills, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice and honey syrup served on the rocks. It sips sweet and subtly floral, a simple and well-proportioned drink that’s downright friendly. But we’re less than crazy about The Mad Hatter, which blends Jameson with absinthe and green tea, a fascinating concept on paper that demands a subtle hand we don’t find. Ours has stratified, with absinthe lurking at the bottom alongside undissolved sugar and bruised whiskey rising to the top, robbed of its nuances. For all that, the drink tastes watery overall, admittedly ambitious but a swing and a miss nonetheless.
Location Details Abby’s Irish Pub
The Abby’s kitchen, however, meets the Davises’ standards of quality handily. We order fish and chips, enticed by the promise of haddock, and when our gingham-paper-lined tray lands, we’re delighted by the bounty it bears. One big fish fillet comes robed in a delicate batter, crisp and buttery but more toothsome than most cod or whitefish offerings we’ve had, a lovely piece of fish indeed. It’s served atop a mound of fast-food-style shoestring fries, which get the job done, with a lovely house tartar sauce that our attentive server says the Davises serve at all of their restaurants. Mellow-sweet coleslaw bears a nice crunch, with whole caraway seeds offering an occasional burst of flavor.
We also order the bangers and mash, a well-plated offering of three petite sausages atop green beans and mashed potatoes which themselves bear a generous helping of Guinness gravy and fried onions. The sausage meat reveals a coarser grind than we’re used to, but it’s a textural fascination that plays nice with the super creamy mash and the crunch of the heavily breaded onions. The meat’s sage-forward seasoning also plays nicely with the mildly flavored mash and rich, salty gravy. As for the green beans, they’re snappy and nicely salted, nothing fancy but a lovely bit of green all the same.
For dessert, we split the bread pudding, served with Jameson whiskey caramel in a searing hot cast-iron skillet. The pud’s sweet and tender with a pleasant top crust. With every bite, we wish the bar program showed the same care we see in our food.