When we first received our invitation from egpPR for the Irish Whiskey Public House media preview party, I thought two things: (1) Why such a long name for a restaurant? and (2) Will the the food be any good at an Irish “public house”?
I still have no answer to the first question, but to the second I give a resounding yes.
Additionally, the decor is casual-yet-sleek, traditional-yet-modern, and wildly impressive. This comes as no surprise, as Maggie O’Neill, designer of both SAX and Lincoln, two visually resplendent Washington hot spots, is the designer behind the space.
The three-floor narrow row house features exposed brick, lots of plaid, hardwood flooring, barrels of whiskey on the walls, brass accents and more. As I wandered through the space, I discovered unique pieces like a ship’s helm, a stuffed fox, paintings of old Irish men, assorted knick-knacks and bottles in every corner.
The cuisine is billed as a modern take on Irish-American food, with Chef Sean McIntosh presenting traditional Irish plates with a contemporary, creative twist.
Last week’s media preview tour took attendees through all three floors, with a signature cocktail, menu item, and bar snack on each level.
Beginning in the basement, the Bitches stumbled upon Daniel of Revamp, Lindsey of DC Magazine, Sophie of Guest of a Guest, Kate of K Street Kate and other media pals. The bartender whipped up three “Brotherhoods” for the two Bitches and Baby Bitch. This cocktail was made with whiskey, tasted of citrus, arrived in a martini glass, and was incredibly strong.
Around the bar, there were baskets of phenomenal warm, fluffy, salty, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth house-made pretzel bites served with a spicy honey mustard dipping sauce. These pretzel bites were unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. And, luckily for yours truly, the portions were far from bite size.
The dish on hand was the pan-seared halibut with a ragou of potato puffs, haricot vert and chanterelle mushrooms finished with an artichoke goat cheese cream sauce. Now, I love pan-seared fish, gnocchi (i.e. potato puffs), chanterelle mushrooms, and goat cheese, so I was biased going in to the first bite. The dish was spectacular—moist, pull-apart halibut, fluffy potato puffs, crispy green beans and a perfectly prepared sauce.
On the second floor, Becca and the Baby Bitch enjoyed the pan-seared filet mignon, set atop an Irish cheddar potato cake and topped with an Irish Whiskey cream sauce. Double-dipped Irish chips were also on hand.
Meanwhile, I nestled in on a bar stool sipping on an Irish Triathlon, a Baileys-and-honey concoction shaken and served in a tumbler glass on ice, prepared by friendly, grinning boys behind the bar. Yep, I’ll be coming back for cocktails soon.
Honestly, the cocktails were so strong by the time we made it to the third floor we had missed the snickity-snacks and would likely not have remembered the details anyhow. That’s just fine, though, my bonny lasses—Irish Whiskey Public House opens Sunday for brunch and you can bet your lucky shamrock the Bitches will be there.
Irish Whiskey Public House
1207 19th Street N.W.