Red, White, Blue and Green in Dublin

Photo: Jack Bradford.

There are 50 million Americans of Irish descent. Your correspondent is not one of them, proving that you do not have to be Irish, American, or any combination therein to enjoy Shanahan’s on the Green in Dublin.  A late, still light summer night might take the traveler to St. Stephen’s Green and pose a dilemma for a spot for dinner for all the options to be had lining up and down all four streets enclosing the Green.  He’d be wise to pick Shanahan’s on the Green . Even for a charming and welcoming culture where every establishment might be confused for Cheers, Shanahan’s sets the pace in a number of ways including its location in an almost 300-year-old Georgian townhouse overlooking the park.

First, the institutional memory is collective and fast. On only a spontaneous third visit driven by thirst, I was greeted by name at the door by the hostess and told that my table was ready.  Heading downstairs to the bar area, Craig the barman also received your correspondent with a warm “Welcome back, Mr. Bradford.  Start you out with a Gibson?”  A+.  Of course the waitress brings an extra batch of the day’s papers to diners eating solo to let them relax while the large groups of bankers, businessmen, and couples on fun dates socialise around the premise.

Second, the fare is American-style steakhouse with great food and attention to detail, quality and service.  The starter side of the menu is awash in crustacea and seafood combinations from Irish waters.

The crab salad is a particular knock-out with its mustard accompaniment.  Equally impressive is the warm bread provided to each table and baked in house — chili-onion muffins and cheese-herb bread.

Delicious.  And of course the meat sourced from local Irish farmers is also delicious. cooked to order and served with a small side of carmelised onions.  The hash browns topped with scallions and the pot of summer greens (no cream… or butter … or oil) make wonderful sides as do the sauteed mushrooms.  Shanahan’s sources most of its meat from its own Angus herd in County Meath — an emerald pastureland.

Third, Shanahan’s could be a valuable museum of Americana without the restaurant and bar.  Skip the upstairs restaurant and hold court with your friends in the downstairs bar called The Oval Office.  The proprietor’s respect for the Irish-American experience (he apparently is the force behind “Hooked on Phonics” and himself is Irish-American) and love affair with it has led him to procure an authentic artifact from each American president of Irish ancestry — though he has yet to capitalise on Barack Obama’s tenure.  It must all be worth a fortune. Letters from Lincoln, Reagan, Buchanan, Jackson and 10 others hang on the walls while the trophy of the place — the JFK rocking chair used on Air Force One — sits in its own shrine behind the bar.

No matter what your lineage, Shanahan’s has the service quality well beyond so many restaurants, it makes the rest of the herd look shameful. The bill is hefty, but the payload is worth it.

The Oval Office downstairs makes the place and it seats about 4 per table, so plan accordingly.  The Oval Office has more charm than the upstairs formal restaurant … where else would you get Frank Sinatra tunes in Dublin?

Shanahan’s on the Green
119 St. Stephen’s Green
Dublin 2, Ireland
353 1 407-0939

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Correspondent:Jack Bradford

Originally from the East Coast, Jack travels extensively for his personal and professional projects. No matter which city, town or village, whether on business or vacation, Jack looks for establishments which are the ones he’d revisit with his best friends or clients. To him, these places accommodate and create an excellent and memorable experience – regardless of busy schedules. Jack is currently based in London.

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