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Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Dublin House in Seaport Square

Another one! This takes us back to the same section of town in an earlier, simpler guise rather than in its later, increasingly sophisticated one:
Old-Fashioned Setting, Real Food: The Dublin House in Seaport Square

On a recent weekday afternoon we had lunch around two o’clock at Dublin House, a restaurant and bar at 9 Stanton Street in Seaport Square. With its vintage mahogany walls, Dublin House exhibits a solid, stable air. It has survived the population shifts, retail business exodus and the rest of the crisis of the central cities. It is so much a survivor from another era that one gets the impression it will stay that way, even as another change – gentrification – arrives at Seaport Square.

The atmosphere of Dublin House is Irish, although the clientele – judging by the limited sample of four other diners we saw while we were there – reflected the diverse population of the area. Irish origins show in the faded country scenes of the wallpaper above the mahogany wainscoting, in the waitstaff’s lively conversations with the regular customers, in the traditional Irish melodies found amidst the top forty and country-western jukebox selections (the Irish songs were sung by Bing Crosby, we might add).

Dublin House is open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and serves food until 7 p.m., with the same menu for both lunch and supper. Consequently, the plates we ordered, although a bit high for a workday lunch, are quite reasonably priced if ordered in the evening. Three of us were together this time, so we were able to sample a variety of selections. We ordered Fish and Chips, on the regular menu at $5.75 and two of the several daily specials: Chopped Sirloin Steak and Hot Open Turkey Sandwich, at $5.25 each. The fish part of the Fish and Chips was fried haddock, and it was outstanding in both appearance and flavor. The portion was very generous, as were all that we had, and the filet had been dipped in a light batter and browned perfectly--we can hear someone on TV saying “fried to golden perfection!” The chips were steak fries, and they were greaseless, well-browned and well-cooked on the inside. Along with these went good cole slow made without too much mayonnaise and a generous helping of Tartar Sauce.

Both the Hot Turkey and the Chopped Sirloin came with a choice of mashed potatoes or fries and string beans or cole slaw. The Hot Turkey came from an actual turkey or turkey breast and was not the synthetic-tasting pressed stuff called turkey roll. It was real! The Chopped Sirloin, looking like a large hamburger (definitely more than ¼ lb.) was greaseless and well-flavored. Both meats were served with gravy, and the two gravies were different. That with the turkey was light and suitable for poultry; the Sirloin gravy was definitely beef. Our string beans were canned, but they were served hot and did not detract from the meal. Our potatoes were real, like the turkey, and not packaged reconstitutes. We should add that before the actual plates arrived we were given ice-water without having to ask, and a basket of good packaged wheat bread (six slices) plus a small plate of butter.

To us, the hallmarks of the fare of Dublin House are the “realness” of the food and the ample portions. Consequently, although we had to wait good twenty minutes before getting our food, we would like to think this was related to its authentic quality. Perhaps there were actually mashing the potatoes! A more likely explanation, however, is that we came at a slow time when the kitchen is not prepared for quick service. We assume food delivery during real lunch hours is faster.

Although our meals cost more than one would care to spend on lunch every day, the menu did contain less expensive items. Sandwiches were available from $2.95 for a Grilled Cheese to $3.95 for a Bacon Burger. So one in quest of a $4 lunch could be well satisfied.

A few final words remain to be said about the physical atmosphere of Dublin House. The bar is well separated from the restaurant section, a wall with only one small opening between them. The women’s rest room, although not well-scrubbed and gleaming enough for a TV commercial, is clean and well-supplied. The restaurant is dimly lit, which we found restful. There is no air conditioning, which might prove a problem on the hottest of days, but we were comfortable when it was in the low eighties outside.

All things considered, if you’re in the area of Seaport Square, you can’t go wrong by ducking into Dublin House for lunch or dinner, just as we did!

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