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Tue, May 15, 2012

Food, The Commons

Kilkenny Ale House: Your Local Tavern

BY Hcane

Kilkenny Ale House: Your Local Tavern

Cheap eats on most days, a killer chili and an odd happy hour awaited… On With The Review!

Kilkenny Ale House
27 Central Ave (corner of Halsey)
Newark, NJ 07102 (map it)
(973) 824-8048
www.kilkennyalehouse.net

Pros:
Inexpensive Lunch Specials
Lots of Beer options
Vegetarian Chili that Meatlovers would like
Very, very tasty food
Easy to Find

Cons:
Happy Hour isn’t so Happy sometimes
Parking during lunch

Location: This Irish pub is located in the Downtown/Halsey are right on Central. Nothing hard at all to find this place and you can pretty much see it right away. Parking after working hours is pretty easy, during lunch not so much (read: hell).

Decor: Standard Irish pub that has the “stereotypical” American Irish tribute items like firefighter banners, police banners, odes to Guinness and hardwood everything. This is generally, you local tavern feel. Works fine and as expected.

Kilkenny Bar Area

In the summer they do open up their exterior doors which allows for a great outside eating kinda feel. Very cool. They also have an upstairs party room, just in case you invited your massive Irish family to come out to eat… or are traveling with a rowdy group of Devils fans…

Menu: The menu has set of standard Irish fair coupled with some surprising additions. The biggest attractions? The Burger, which is $5 on Monday (but more if you add cheese…. GOT YA!) and comes with fries. It had a good flavor, beefy and has been correctly cooked to order. I got a little annoyed that at times my fries came overcooked the first time (which is a MASSIVE no no for me when the restaurant is empty) – but that seemed to have been an anomaly as future visits yielded good fries. They have salads which are definitely different from surrounding restaurant offers, such as the Irish Cheddar & Granny Apple salad. Of course, you got your bangers and mash, soda bread, fish and chips with other Irish staples. You also get a serious selection of tasty bar appetizers, like Irish “chips”. Its a very adequate menu that will not disappoint.

Burger with Fries - $5 - Add Irish Cheddar: $1.

But since we are on the menu attractions: let’s move on to the knockout punch.. the chili… I am convinced there was some sort of leprechaun magic involved in this recipe. I ordered the vegetarian chili and O>M>G… hands down the best vegetarian chili I have ever had… EVARRRR. It’s been 2 years.. it’s STILL the damn best vegetarian chili I’ve ever eaten, It’s beaten up beef chilis. It’s kicked around turkey chilis. It’s glorious!!!!!! AAAAAND.. topped with a generous amount of Cheddar and a small scoop of sour cream … oh joy!

 

Vegetarian Chili of the gods... and Irish Fries in a Supporting Role. Fries not over cooked this time.

I seriously had to ask the waitress if the chili was vegetarian the first time I ate it. The flavor, the application of spices, the selection of veggies was absolutely PHENOMENAL. It was dark, earthy and warming.. not the usual light mess I’ve had with other veggie “chilies”! It didn’t taste like a bunch of steamed veggies! The heat built up slowly but surely, easily handled. I was convinced there had to be a trick, this was not possible… not this kind of flavor from a vegetarian chili…. I mean.. I was beside myself. For $7, one receives a good size offering of an amazing bowl of love. Vegetarians rejoice, you have an ace card against meat eaters… everyone needs to try this stuff now!

OH AND OF COURSE the BEER. As Irish places tend to do – there is no lack of beer selection here. They have the 3rd most drafts in the town (11 to choose from) and I lost count on how many bottles. You have your standard (Guinness, Bud, Smithwicks, Coors ) and other imports / less known brands (by commoner standards) – but definitely a good choice..

Quality: The food quality is fresh and high. Plates are generally well presented and you definitely get what you pay for. Take away that one French fries incident… (.. OK OK.. I’ll get over it…)

Although lots to choose from.. our beer was served a bit warm. That could be 1 – they don’t believe in cold beer or 2 -they are serving cold beer in a hot pitcher…which is a big no-no. Once again, come St Patty’s day.. and magically this was fixed. So at least their mistakes are inconsistent, which means their scores are constant. Got that? Good.. let’s move on.

Be very weary when you order hard liquor, as I don’t think they explain that sometimes they use substitutes (Cask-n-Cream for Bailey’s for example)… if you are that kind of person.

Service: Service is kinda quirky… everyone is REALLY polite, always ready with a salutation or a send-off in a very friendly manner. But this is during lunch when the crowd is low and generally minimal chaos. Happy Hour? You can sense that everyone was new at their job and at times, you just didn’t think the staff new how to run a standard happy hour. Polite, but kinda with a feel of “So like, are you drinking or what”. Just strangely inconsistent – but hopefully it can be resolved with a little more organization / experience later on. So slow hours = meh service… Packed house = Great! … am I missing something?!

Ambiance: Weird. Lunch can be packed and jumpin’ or simply… dead. Happy hour was VERY strange. It kinda felt like everyone was standing in a conference room awaiting for someone to start the meeting… no music… TV’s were on but no sound… no that happy. They have a jukebox, that I had to spend some dough on to lighten up the place… instant good move to place some grooves, but why the heck did I have to be the one to add music and not the management? You also get a mix of all sorts of people: from 21 year old college types to plenty of the surrounding professional types. Make sure to bring a VERY interesting conversation… you know… like how their french fries were overcooked (… WHAT? !)

 

Chili up close ... mmmmm

Conclusion: An overall above average place with some really high marks and some really low marks. Probably one of the nicer Irish spots in Newark and definitely a good bang for your buck for lunch specials. Tasty food always keeps you on the map.

Hurricane Rating: Category 3.5

H-Cane’s Final Spin:┬áKilkenny’s is a great place if you want have a beer and a bite. I know some sports fans go there for major local team and New York team games. Go with that hottie at work that you want to “converse” with, that loves chili… and wow them with the vegetarian chili of the gods. Just.. don’t go during happy hour… it will make them sad.

H-Cane’s Food Question of the Moment: What do you think is the Burger in Newark? Leave your answers in this reviews comments section, below:

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