From time to time, a new restaurant pops up here in Dallas that raises an eyebrow. OK, actually, it's more like a couple times a week. It's far more rare to find new spots that we can actually see becoming a second home. The lucky thing for anyone who happens to be Irish in this town (or who likes Irish food or drink) is that a shiny, new Irish pub, The Crafty Irishman, opened downtown in the Mercantile Building about a month ago — and it's fecking great.
The more-Irish-than-Bono atmosphere is laid back with bar, restaurant and patio seating and plenty of staff to go around. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a football match, a pint and offerings from a food menu honed for an entire year before opening. Or just relax on the patio and watch the clueless tourists whiz by on their Segways. (Cool helmets, y'all.)
For anyone who enjoys a glimpse at a different culture through cuisine, this pub fare will prove fun. Their grilled cheese is actually a cheese toastie, their oatmeal is listed on the menu as porridge. Food items not to be missed: the Scotch egg, drunker mussels and the traditional corned beef stack. A return trip is on the books for their bacon-wrapped drums in Guinness barbecue and another round of their bread pudding with creamy, whiskey-infused sauce. Stay tuned for news about the forthcoming coffee bar, where they'll be offering serve-yourself coffee. Expect custom blends to accompany their house-made cinnamon rolls and other breakfast goodies.
The Crafty Irishman is an Irish "public house," so the drink options must be mentioned. The rotating drafts will offer some locals, but will keep necessary Irish staples on tap (Guinness, anyone?) along with some other options that round out the menu. The owner even purchased the entire stock brought to Dallas of his favorite beer so he could be the sole distributor of it. The extensive and surprisingly well curated cocktail and wine lists seem out of place, but some compromises must be made to satisfy patrons. At least they did it well.
While the food and drink at The Crafty Irishman are on point, the best part of this quaint pub is the Irish owner, Alan Kearney. He's the boisterous uncle you always wish you'd had to give you your first sip of beer and tell stories that would prepare you for the real world. If you can get two minutes with him, take it.
Alan's presence not only gives the place some extra character, but his involvement has made the place what it is — a respite downtown. We've all seen turnover downtown, and he's seen it first-hand as a resident. He knew there was a void to fill, and he's done it. It's not over the top, it's not pretentious, it's not cheesy.
"There's nothing fancy about us," he says. "We don't want to be a corporate bar."
And we love him for that.
The Crafty Irishman, 1800 Main St.