April 1, 2013

Dine out Maine: Byrnes' Irish Pub suffers from nondescript food, so-so service


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Byrnes’ Irish Pub is a few steps away from the new train stop in Brunswick. It has a long bar with an impressive 25 taps, and the walls hold framed pictures, posters and beer logos.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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16 Station Ave., Brunswick 729-9400; byrnesirishpub.com


HOURS: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday (opens at 10 a.m. Sunday); 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday


PRICE RANGE: Starters and salads, $5.99 to $8.99; sandwiches and entrees, $6.99 to $10.50



KIDS: Welcome, kids' menu

RESERVATIONS: For parties of eight or more

BAR: Full. Twenty-five taps include Irish beers aplenty as well as many standard choices, cocktails and wine by the glass.


BOTTOM LINE: If the atmosphere suits you, come for Irish beer, trivia night, karaoke or live music, depending on the night. Or come because Byrnes' is cheap and convenient and its guests are out for a good time. But don't come for the food. It's nothing like your Irish grandmother's. (There is another Byrnes pub, in Bath, with the same owner.)

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:

* Poor  ** Fair  *** Good **** Excellent ***** Extraordinary.

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously.

Better service characterized our second visit. We felt welcomed and efficiently cared for, despite the fact the place was hopping on that Friday before St. Patrick's Day.

Still, service was a little sloppy: Silverware and napkins came in dribbles after requests, and appetizer plates again stayed on the table while we dug into entrees.

The White Irish Cosmo, foggy in appearance and composed of Boru Irish whiskey, white cranberry juice, Cointreau and lime, was a good sweet/tart balance -- not ultra-frosty after being shaken, but cold enough ($7.25).

Black bean and bacon soup, nicely seasoned (as in, not too salty) and fine in taste was pureed to a rough textured potage and served without a garnish, making it a bowl of charcoal-gray ($2.99). Fish cake and house salad resembled their earlier incarnations.

A salmon sandwich ($7.99) was nicely grilled and topped with ginger coleslaw and melted Swiss cheese -- a bit of an East-West tussle that worked well enough. It came on a potato roll -- a soft, fresh and welcome unifier.

Raise an enthusiastic pint to the evening special, a Guinness beef stew. This hearty bowl of tender meat, thick and flavorful sauce, chunky carrots and turnips ($9.99) was a rare find among weak-to-middling fare.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at:



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