Doolin’s Irish Pub
3211 Shannon Road
South Square, Durham
Entrees: $8 — $15
Doolin’s Irish Pub is the newest restaurant in the same office building that houses G2B. This building has been notoriously harsh to its restaurants — the location is off the beaten path across the street from the Bank of America on Shannon Road. Doolin’s has the advantage of being in the front of the building so you can see it as you drive by, so hopefully that will help them with traffic. I was surprised that they were mostly full on a Thursday night.
The atmosphere is all Irish pub, and it has an interesting layout with the main bar taking prominence.
The rest of the tables are set up around the edges of the restaurant, and there are some pretty cozy spaces like couches arranged near a bookshelf and a cathedral-like corner.
It’s been open for a month now. They are still working out the kinks, mostly in the service and delivery of food. Our waitress, busser, and the manager (I think!) were super friendly, but somehow they would all drop by within the same few minutes to check on us then disappear for a while. Our food came out pretty slowly, and when food was ran out to tables, the runner often wasn’t sure what table was supposed to get it or all the dishes didn’t come out at once. But I bet they’ll get the timing down better with a little more experience.
For drinks, they have about eight red and eight white wine options, a full bar, and roughly eight beers on tap. I saw Guinness, Blue Moon, and Magner’s Cider, but I didn’t catch the rest of the draft selection — food blogger fail, I know.
My friend and I were very happy with our entrees. The menu is a mix of standard pub fare like smothered fries and buffalo chicken wraps and Irish options that included corned cabbage, boxty, and shepard’s pie. I went for the bangers and mash.
It was delightful, especially the Guinness gravy in combination with both the sausages and the mashed potatoes. The sausages were grilled to the point of having a nicely charred skin, and the mashed potatoes were delicious and covered with a thick layer of cheddar cheese.
My friend went for the half portion of fish and chips, and I honestly can’t imagine wanting a full portion, which would be twice as much fish.
The French fries had a bubbly coating, which I love, and my friend enjoyed the fish. It looked nice and moist from where I was sitting, and I was happy to see that they served them in stick form — I don’t really like the full fried fillets more common to the East Coast.
The dessert options could use some work, however. My friend had the apple turnover on special.
She said the turnover itself was fine, but the apples were scarce and didn’t have any spices that she could taste, just plain apple flavor. The ice cream was the best part of her dish.
I had the Bailey’s cheesecake, which I assumed would be an Irish cream cheesecake.
I think I assumed wrong. It tasted like plain, but good, cheesecake to me. The problem was the gummy crust that tasted like graham crackers crumbs mixed with shortening — not my idea of a good cheesecake crust.
The desserts and service can definitely use improvement, but our entrees were great, and I liked the restaurant atmosphere a lot. We’ll be back to check out trivia night soon.
Reviewed 19 April 12.