But I stuffed myself at MacCool's Public House, an Irish pub-style restaurant that now has three locations along the Wasatch Front. And, frankly, I'm glad I did.
MacCool's has the kind of food you'll find in Ireland and the British Isles shepherd's pie, bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage plus other kinds of homey deliciousness like lasagna, steak, pierogies and, on Fridays, prime rib. The pubby element is not overdone but shows up in dark-wood booths and tables, intimate lighting and efficient but friendly service. It's a great place for dates or for a group, but there's a thoughtful kids' menu and the staff seems adept at serving families.
The blustery night that my husband and I visited MacCool's made the prospect of some indulgent comfort food very appealing, indeed. We started with the pierogies, tender, buttery and full of soft, creamy cheese, and topped with tender red onions and wilted, bright-green spinach.
We also had the "Finn skins," an inspired cross between potato skins and chips, with thin-sliced, just-crisp fried potatoes topped with red onion, bacon, fresh-snipped herbs and scads and scads of cheese. This whole glorious mess was broiled until it was lovely and browned on top. This was the real jumping-off point for my stuff-fest: I'd eat a couple of cheesy potato slices, telling myself, "This is it," and the next thing I knew, a few more slices had gone down the hatch.
I also tried a half-bowl of the excellent potato-leek soup, a thick puree of its namesake ingredients with a creamy texture and peppery finish.
For dinner, my husband had the classic shepherd's pie, tender beef, carrots, peas and onions in gravy topped with mashed potatoes. Gravy in Ireland and Britain is both less sweet and less salty than many of our gravies, and the stuff at MacCool's tasted darkly authentic.
I had the lamb shank, braised in red wine sauce until it was falling-off-the-bone tender and served with rosy red cooked beets and potato wedges with moist, floury centers and crisped outsides. Not everybody likes the unique, borderline-gamy taste of lamb, but if you've ever thought of trying it, this is a fine place to start.
For dessert, my husband had a monumental slice of dark chocolate cake sandwiched between layers of fudgy frosting, while I had the apple crisp, an excellent rendition of the British-Irish classic, with loads of crunchy oats and nuts topping tender apples cooked with spices. On top, a scoop of vanilla ice cream gently melted. It was so good I thought it would be a crime not to finish it all.
So I did, stuffing myself good and proper.
Appetizers $5.99-$15.99, soup and salad $3.25-$8.99, sandwiches $5.99-$10.99, Irish classics $10.99-$12.50, entrees $13.99-$16.99, kids' meals $4.99.
Rating: *** 1/2
Where: 11610 S. District Main Drive, South Jordan (other locations in Salt Lake City and Layton)
Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted; no checks
Wheelchair access: Easy
Also: Daily specials; Saturday and Sunday brunch served 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret Morning News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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