Food elevates Irish pub to more than just a local watering hole
by Staff Writer
This Irish pub has an identity problem. It is actually a gastrolounge: a restaurant and bar that serves high-end food and drink. But the name Jimmy O’Donnell’s Gastro Lounge does not flow so well.
So Irish bar fans are pleasantly surprised to get their Notre Dame fix along with high quality, monster portions of food. Foodies should know this is a place to get innovative pub fare.
Tim Wright hails from Columbus, Ohio, where he owned a bar and grill. He moved down to Mooresville in August 2010 to be with his future wife Paige Wright. The two married in March 2012 and opened the restaurant, named after Tim’s father, in July.
His love of Notre Dame is obvious in the decor choices in the restaurant. The bartenders can happily make you a Nutty Irishman – Bailey’s, Frangelico and cream – or perhaps you’d like to try the Jimmy O’Donnell pilsner. It is a beer brewed especially for the restaurant and is always on special. But the bar is not the focus of this Irish pub. The couple wanted to create a family-friendly meeting place with an Irish twist. So the restaurant uses a grassy field adjacent to it for kids to play cornhole or football while their parents socialize.
The pub specializes in shepherd’s pie, real Irish pork sausage and other Irish fare, but the super star of the menu is a Beanie Burger. The single Beanie Burger is a crossover from Tim’s Columbus restaurant. It is an 8-ounce bacon cheeseburger with sautéed onions, lettuce and tomatoes and then topped with homemade coleslaw. The Double Beanie Burger is 16 ounces of hamburger and the Triple Beanie Burger is 19 ounces. A Beanie Burger Hall of Fame neon sign hangs on the wall along with photos of all those who have finished the double. Recently, a customer finished the triple to great fanfare and amazement, considering most people have trouble finishing the single.
The restaurant strives to keep a pub-like feel, but the food is strictly high end with generous portions. The dressings, sauces and breading are all homemade.
“One customer told us to ‘just close your doors and start bottling this stuff’,” Tim Wright said of the barbecue sauce.
The two-inch stack of corned beef on the Reuben is slow-cooked as a brisket to ensure a succulent taste. The Guinness gravy is thick and rich, and could be eaten as a side. The Irish rolls, made with corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut wrapped in a wonton wrapper and fried, are perfect bites of crisp and tender when dunked in the homemade Russian dressing. The homemade hamburger and cabbage soup is an interesting bestseller.
“Every week, we have this couple come in and they each order a bowl of the soup,” Paige Wright said. “Then he orders an entrée and she says ‘Oh, I’ll just have another bowl of soup.’”
Regular diner Bobby Broffman has a favorite menu item.
“They have the best barbecue pork ribs I’ve ever had,” he said. “I also love the Notre Dame fries and the Guinness gravy.”
The Notre Dame fries are covered in slow-cooked, seasoned and shredded roast beef and then smothered in Guinness gravy.
Tony Dabbs, another regular diner, can’t decide on a favorite menu item.
“I haven’t had a bad thing in here,” he said. “The food is awesome and I especially love the barbecue sauce.”
“We work hard to create really excellent food,” Tim Wright said. “And we’ve worked hard to create an atmosphere that is inviting to our neighbors in Mooresville.”
There are 12 HD televisions to watch sporting events and they have hosted local sports teams at the restaurant. They hope to get more events going for St. Patrick’s Day and other local happenings.
“We already have regulars,” Tim Wright said. “But we need to let the rest of Mooresville know we are here.”