Overview: The 11-year-old Mannion’s is Somerset County’s St. Pat’s Day fixture, as one of the only traditional Irish pubs that’s central to the county. With a countdown to St. Patrick’s Day inside the pub and on its website, Mannion’s specialty is both American food and Irish favorites.
While reservations are recommended for St. Patrick’s Day—the restaurant and bar will be packed—finding a table for a weekday lunch is not a problem. In addition, the service is quick, friendly and accommodating. A particular note goes to the waitress who offered a second table for my laptop, so it wasn’t monopolizing the table.
Décor: Mannion’s echoes the traditional Irish pub feel, meaning wood-panel walls, rustic tables and loads of Irish decorations on the walls. The location’s split into three rooms, including a main room with the bar and a few tables, and two dining-only areas on the left and right. The restaurant evokes a pub-feel, meaning it’s a little dark and pathways are narrow.
The Drinks: Being an Irish pub, it’s practically required to have a bar. While I know Mannion’s stocks the required Guinness and several other draft beers, I’m unsure of its offerings for mixed drinks or bottled beers—lunch is a bit early for alcohol! For the lunch crew, or those who just aren’t alcohol fans, there’s bottled water, soda, sparkling water, milk, iced and hot tea, coffee, juice and lemonade.
Entrees: I want to admit that I’m almost immediately biased when entering an Irish pub. There’s a good chance I’ll order the shepherd’s pie and absolutely love it. I’ve heard on good authority—it’s my father’s favorite Irish dish, and he’s stopped at Mannion’s for their take on it—that it’s a decent take on an Irish staple.
Initially, the menu stumped me. That’s not a bad thing though. With American dishes, like burgers, sandwiches, salads and several pasta dishes [I’m not quite sure why anyone would order pasta at an Irish pub], their menu’s hardly free of options. Grill lovers will be happy to know that there’s steak and other options on the grill section of the dinner menu.
The only complaint? Some of the dinner options, like the corned beef and corned beef sandwich, aren’t offered during lunchtime.
Still, the hunt for Irish food can be satisfied with the lunch menu, which includes the aforementioned shepherd’s pie, Olde Irish Fish and Chips [the dinner menu includes Guinness fish and chips too] and Coley’s Irish Stew, which consists of beef tips in Guinness Gravy, vegetables and potatoes.
Mannion’s had me at “Guinness.”
The stew doesn’t skimp on beef, potatoes or vegetables, but if you’re not a fan of chunky stew, you’ll be disappointed. The stew seemed a little salty to me as well, though it’s not inedible.
Desserts: The menu recommends that diners ask their server for a list of desserts, which included pumpkin cheesecake and other offerings. I’m unsure if it changes seasonally, but the desserts are available year-round.
Service: During lunch, service was friendly and attentive.