Muldoon's Irish Pub
202 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
At the very start of this year, my old computer took a dump on me. I was a little bummed about it because it was the computer that I started this blog on, the computer where I first contacted my now wife, Katie, and of course I lost some pictures and documents that I did not have enough time to recover before the motherboard burned up.
One of the things I was most bummed about losing was my, "Restaurant Wishlist", that I had compiled since the inception of this blog. Anytime I ran across a newspaper article, another restaurant blog, or even readers tips, I would jot down the name of the restaurant, and also where I had heard about a certain place, and who told me about it. I remember a few from my old list, including the place we would be dining at this evening, Muldoon's Irish Pub.
Nick, one of my sister-in-law's friends, was the one who suggested that we visit Muldoon's a few years ago. Sorry it took us so long to get to your suggestion Nick. We picked this restaurant not just because it was recommended to us, but also because we are in the midst of Newport Beach Restaurant Week, and their menu looked real promising. Restaurant weeks are great chances for restaurants to shine, and showcase their creativity and culinary prowess. Muldoon's had a four course meal for $30 a person, which is a steal when you consider that entrees alone are priced at $20 by themselves here, so this menu got me excited.
I was also excited because Muldoon's brings to mind a simpler time in my life. Two decades ago when I lived in the area with my two best friends, we would come here two, three, or more times a week. We would always hangout in the pub, enjoy some cocktails, and participate in darts. Back then it was all about drinking and chasing skirts, now it's more about having a great date night with my wife, and enjoying a great dinner. This was in fact the first time I would be eating in the dining room in all my many visits to Muldoon's. Let's see if I should have been focusing more on the food, instead of the adult beverages for all those years.
Meals at Muldoon's always start off with Irish Soda Bread. I've had mixed experiences with this bread in the past. At some places the bread is really hard and dense, while others make a more sweetened version, which I enjoy more. This one at Muldoon's was not in your face sweet, but I still enjoyed it because it was lighter than most, and the raisins stayed out of my way. We also enjoyed the generous slab of Irish butter that came out with this. Very creamy, and it really added to the bread.
On the restaurant week menu, this was listed as an appetizer, but I thought of this Smoked Salmon on a Potato Pancake more as an amuse bouche. I almost took this down in one bite. I enjoyed this, even though I thought it was weird to combine salmon with a fried potato. The potato was fried nicely, lacked grease, and had a good favor. The salmon was fresh, and was good on it's own, but was a little overpowered when combined with the pancake.
On to course number two, and Katie selected the Pub Salad ($8.95) to start with. This good sized side salad included greens, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and as a little twist, sunflower seeds. Katie was pretty happy with this salad, and loved the inclusion of the sunflower seeds. The blue cheese dressing was on point, and the produce was fresh. All you could want from a side salad.
Since Katie had the salad, that left me with the Soup of the Day ($7.95), which just happened to be Split Pea. This was a pretty good version of this classic soup. It could have been made better by adding more ham or some bacon, and it could have been creamier, but it did its job fine on this evening.
When Katie's entree hit the table, we could not believe the serving size of this Fish and Chips ($19.95). Five good sized pieces of wild snapper, fried perfectly, with a nice crunchy batter, and a moist, flaky fish inside. One of the better fish and chips we have had recently. It was made even better with a very well done tarter sauce for dipping. The fries were tasty and plentiful. Katie said this could have been made better with some malt vinegar, but our waiter never brought any out, and she could not stop herself from eating this before we saw him again.
There were three other items for me to choose from the entree portion of Muldoon's restaurant week menu, and I think I made the right choice by picking this Sheppard's Pie ($21). This very Irish meal was deceptively filling. I kind of thought it was on the small size, until I could not finish it, and had to take half of it home for lunch the next day. A well seasoned meat and veggie base was topped with some really good mashed potatoes to create this comfort food classic. Be forewarned if you order this, it will come out scalding hot, so be sure to let it cool for awhile.
Even though we were quite full by this point, we still had dessert coming for us. Katie selected the Irish Berry Trifle ($11) to end her meal at Muldoon's. This European take on a shortcake had layers of vanilla bean custard, whipped cream, cake, and berries strewn about it. For fruit lovers, like Katie, this was a wonderful way to end her meal. I much prefer chocolate when having desserts, so the Mini Dark Chocolate Sundae ($7.50) would be my choice on this evening. Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and See's crushed toffee were the basis for this dessert. I would have liked some hot fudge included here, but still a decent sundae.
Both Katie and I left Muldoon's very happy, and full. At $30 each for dinner, this is wonderful place to come for restaurant week. By my rudimentary calculations, this meal would have cost us well over $80, so that's a savings of at least ten dollars per person. What I enjoy most about Muldoon's is that I had the feeling that this is how the pubs are in Ireland, even though I have never been there. It's not too gimmicky, their Irishness is subtle, and not thrown in your face like a lot of other spots that claim to be Irish pubs are guilty of. The food here was pretty stellar for pub fare, and we would not hesitate to come back and try some of their other items, Irish or not, on our next visit to this Newport Beach gem. We even had the added treat of having a nightcap in the pub, where the great Sean Kelly helms the bar five nights a week, just like he's done for over 25 plus years now, and back when I used to be a regular here. I dare even say, he remembers my drink every time I come back to see him. I'm glad I remembered that Nick suggested we visit Muldoon's, and I look forward to starting my new restaurant wishlist.
Out of five hill-forts, (because the name Muldoon means hill-fort), five being best to zero being worst, Muldoon's Irish Pub gets 3.5 hill-forts.
To find out more about Muldoon's Irish Pub, head to their website here: http://www.muldoonspub.com/