Thursday, October 13, 2011
If I’m being honest, I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce An Poitin Stil. All I know is that “Poitin” is a word for once-banned Irish moonshine, and luckily for me, everyone just calls it “The Stil.”
Like its name, the restaurant and bar is authentically Irish down to every last detail, unlike the recycled McSomeone’s Irish Pub that you run into in every neighborhood. The owners of An Poitin Stil, at 2323 York Rd. have made it a point to weave Irish history throughout the restaurant’s décor and menu.
From the outside, the Stil looks like an amalgamation of a few different pub fronts. After walking in through the castle-like doors, it’s clear that the interior is also segmented to feel like several different Irish settings.
Surrounding a central bar, there are other bars designed to look like Irish storefronts with floors to match their themes, a cottage nook room, a monk’s cell, a king’s banquet room where live music is played and a Victorian parlor.
It would be easy to see how such a theme could be overdone and gimmicky, but the Stil manages to do it just right. The space is cozy and rustic, but the happy hour crowd listening to live music remains young and hip. And there’s ample space for a low-key evening with friends or a family dinner out.
Most importantly, the menu and its dishes speak for themselves.
On my latest visit to the Stil, my family and I sat in a quiet room away from the bars themed as a horse stable. The service was top-notch and the food wasn’t far behind.
It’s not often that the bread basket you get before dinner is notable, but I’d be happy to carb-load and make a meal of the Stil’s fresh, warm soda bread, sweet with butter on top.
Since French onion soup is one of my favorites, I decided to try the Stil’s alternative – Irish onion soup ($5.99). The savory combination of beef broth with caramelized onions, sopping bread, melted sharp cheddar cheese and crispy onion straws on top was a delicious twist on an old favorite.
My only complaint is that I was stuffed by the time I got my main meal, the Galway mussels ($8.99), which is actually an appetizer. However, they were so tasty, I didn’t let a single one of the pound ofPrince Edward Island mussels sautéed in lemon butter sauce go to waste.
I also sampled the buffalo burger ($9.49) and the salmon BLT on a ciabatta roll ($10.99). But the most interesting dish I tried was the Irish stew ($13.99). I had thought about getting it myself, but saw right away that I would have never been able to finish the mix of braised lamb, onions, carrots, and potatoes served in a bread bowl, which would have been more accurately described as a hollowed-out loaf.
An Poitin Stil, however it’s pronounced and whatever it means, offers the chance for hungry diners and thirsty drinkers to step off of York Road and into Ireland for a night.