Friday, October 14, 2011
Can an Irishman, or for that matter, an Irish pub have a better moniker? The name actually derives from “Fionn mac Cumhaill” in Old Irish, the blonde hunter-warrior of Irish myth and legend, the English version of the name being “Finn McCool.” And it is the name of a large, national chain of traditional Irish taverns.
The Finn McCool’s in Ambler is one of the more recent additions to the franchise, and further enlivens Ambler’s bright entertainment and restaurant scene. It is housed in a huge, historic old stone building right on the main drag through Ambler. It has some outdoor tables with umbrellas right out front. Inside, it is all classic pub, all in Kelly green and varnished woods, hardwood floors and, of course, a large central bar offering cold drafts and drinks.
Anyone with any Irish in them, real or wannabee, will feel at home here, either at the square bar or at one of the many well-spaced tables.
While McCool’s large menu features a few good ol’ Irish favorites like Shepard’s Pie and Gaelic Steak made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, it is well filled out with many more American pub standbys, among the appetizers (“Pub Grub”), soups, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, very good cheesesteaks and burgers, wraps, pastas, and platters – all priced very reasonably. There is even a small kid’s menu, so children are welcome.
Since it opened, I have made both a lunch and a dinner visit, each time with three or more dining companions. All the dishes both times were more than satisfactory, well-portioned, and tasteful.
As the photos taken at my more recent lunch there attest, my salad and my tablemates’ hamburgers and cheesesteak picks were excellent, fresh, juicy, and most savory.
The grilled Gulf shrimp & baby spinach salad ($12.45) was completed with roast red pepper, hard boiled egg, tomato, crumbled bacon, and wild berry vinaigrette. (It also comes with provolone cheese, which I eschewed). I loved the combination of these ingredients, and made a very happy plate.
The burgers are made with a half pound of Angus beef ($6.95), which looked really delicious, and served with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a fresh bun. You are invited to “name your own burger” by adding from a choice of five cheeses, and four toppings. Add fries for an addl. $1.75.
Homemade crab cakes are featured in three of the eight entrees and in a sandwich which should mean that they make them especially well. One is served alongside a NY strip steak for $22.95. The crab cake sandwich for $12.45 sounds like a bargain, and I may have to try one next time.
Bartender Aileen holds forth behind the bar during daylight hours, and will chat it up and take good care of you if you sit at the bar.
Note that internet reviews such as on Urban Spoon and Yelp are very mixed. Noise levels can be very loud when the dining room/bar is full.
Source: Mitch Davis, ambler.patch.com