The Idle Rich Pub
2614 McKinney Ave.
Dude Factor: 7, or "Mr. Burns," on a scale of 1 ("Donald Trump") to 10 ("Bruce Wayne")
As much as I love The Old Monk, I hadn't really thought of it or its sister bars (The Dubliner, Blackfriar Pub and The Idle Rich Pub) as Dude Food destinations--particularly not The Idle Rich. Any place that serves cheese boards is aspiring to a level of sophistication far beyond the dude diet, I thought. Cheese is meant to be a topping for chili dogs, or melted with Ro-tel to make queso. Serving little pieces of gourmet cheese on their own is so...French. And then there's the matter of the name "Idle Rich," which conjures images of lockjawed Harvard assholes in top hats sipping martinis after a particularly strenuous day of yachting.
But after reading this explanation for the moniker, I have a new respect for owner Feargal McKinney. Turns out the term has a double meaning, as it is a slang name for beggars in McKinney's native Ireland. In the case of the bar, it's a coy way of saying all are welcome.
That was indeed the case Friday night. There were millionaires, sure--both the real deal and the $30,000 version. But I also saw a guy sporting a foot-tall mohawk who didn't get a second glance. And if I had any doubts that an Uptown joint had food to appeal to regular dudes, they were gone by the time we left.
The menu lists a few fancy-pants items like pate and the aforementioned cheese board (the latter of which my wife ordered). But there's plenty of meaty, deep-fried and greasy grub too: calamari, cheese fries, burgers and fish and chips. In fact, such stomach-coating fare is pretty much all that's available after 11 p.m.
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Under the circumstances, it was time to branch out. I ordered the steamed mussels--largely due to the accompanying "frites" (French fries in American) and spicy mayonnaise...and the fact they steamed the things in ale. My only complaint is they didn't give me a spoon to eat the broth with. Maybe that means I wasn't supposed to. But dudes are resourceful, right? I figured out that I could use a discarded mussel shell. The fries were great, especially with the spicy, creamy mayo.
The cheese board was cute, if a bit boring. Coulda used a lot more corned beef.
I especially appreciated the beer and whiskey selection, all reasonably priced. The menu had helpful and occasionally smart-ass descriptions. My favorite: "Corona-Miles away from unusual."
The crowd was on the doucher side, to be honest. We saw two dudes pantomime a powerlift squat thrust; save it for the gym, fellas. But the music--Pixies, Nirvana, Pavement, Beastie Boys and the occasional contemporary indie-rock hit--helped drown out their inane conversations. And the food made it more than worthwhile.