Not everyone has a job that allows one — nay, pays one — to go have a beer at 4:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. I sometimes forget this, and when I pushed through the door at the new Molly Maguire’s (5815 Live Oak St., 469-248-3080), I was taken aback at first by the lack of bar hubbub. It was quiet — almost too quiet. The Celtic music played low. I was outnumbered by the staff 5-to-1. As I say, though, it was early. Inside an hour, the place accommodated a dozen or so thirsty souls, and the buzz was welcome.
Here’s the thing about Molly Maguire’s: it’s in the old Tipperary space. The Tipperary was the most beautiful pub in Dallas. When Molly Maguire’s moved in, they didn’t change much. So it’s still the most beautiful pub in Dallas. The wooden snugs (the semi-private booths imported from Ireland) are still there. All the dark wood and stained glass are still there.
A few things have changed, though, and for the better. The Tipp had a reputation for getting a bit stuffy in the summer. Co-owner Hallie Clayton read a bunch of online reviews of the old place and took measures to correct problems that several people mentioned. He and his partners (Ricky Woolfolk and Joey Burzynski) installed a new 15-ton AC unit on the roof. You can feel the difference.
Many years ago, while in the employ of the now defunct Met magapaper, I attempted to find the coldest beer in Dallas, taking with me a digital thermometer that I plunged into pint after pint. When I visited the Tipp, they wouldn’t let me measure their beer’s temperature. The bartender said, “I know we’ll have the warmest beer in town. We do that on purpose. It’s the way beer is supposed to be served.” Or words to that effect. You know what? This isn’t Dublin. It’s Dallas. When it’s 103 degrees outside, only cold beer will do (with Guinness being the possible exception in my book; really cold Guinness don’t taste right).
Clayton and his crew installed a new draft system that cools the beer as it flows to the tap. Thank you, gentlemen.
(Watch out. Here comes an expert transition.) Clayton knows cold. He’s from Ottawa. That’s in Canada. Hockey brought him to Dallas; he was in the Stars’ farm system and arrived just in time for the lockout. The first Ottawa bar he ever worked in was called Molly Maguire’s, and Clayton, whose parents are from Ireland, says he has always wanted to run an Irish pub. His joint shares a name with several other pubs across the country, but they aren’t related.
Which brings me to the food, if only because that’s the only thing left to talk about, save for the dancing. (That one stank. Sorry.) I tried but one dish. But it’s the dish that every Irish pub has to do right: fish and chips. Here, though, they’re called “whale and chips” ($12): Guinness-battered haddock served with house-made tartar sauce spiked with a tangy touch of Dijon. Many places use cod for this dish. Clayton says haddock is the way to go because the fish has more flavor and because the fillets are bigger. I won’t argue. The two pieces on my plate were more than I could eat. They were crisp and not too greasy. As a side, I went with “sweet potato puffs,” which are tots made with sweet potatoes. They were addictive.
Here’s what else you’ll find on the menu: Guinness-braised short ribs ($16), the Tipperary Inn (half a roasted chicken, $14), Riley’s Traditional Shepherd’s Pie ($12), and Edgar Allen Poe’s (corned beef and cabbage, $18), among others. Appetizers include James Joyce (roasted baby red potatoes topped with smoked salmon, $7), Guinness wings ($7), and Guinness battered onion rings ($5), among others.
The comestibles, it should be noted, will soon be overseen by a chef whose name foodies will recognize. It will be a big-deal announcement in mid-September. Stay tuned for that.
So, the dancing. (One for three on transitions. Batting .333.) If you’re up for more raucous time than I had on my Tuesday visit, call ahead to learn which night the band Paddy Gone Wild will be playing (or check out their Facebook page). They play Molly Maguire’s about twice a month, usually accompanied by an Irish dance troupe from a local dance school. I overheard another customer talking about how packed the place got at their last performance.
Finally, my two quibbles. 1) the beer programming could use some attention. The taps pour nothing unusual: Blue Moon, Newcastle (on the menu as New Castle), Harp, Stella, Hoegaarden, etc. Each is $5. A Guinness will cost you 25 cents more. The bottle selection doesn’t get much more adventurous. Though I did find something called “Pilsner Uroquel” ($4.25) and something called “Dogfish Stone” ($5), which sounds like the love child of my two favorite breweries. Aside from the misspellings and miscues, the menu just seems a few steps behind a city that has embraced a place like Meddlesome Moth.
And 2) the servers ought to ditch the neckties. I’m sure they don’t enjoy wearing them. In a pub-like setting, ties are a pretense. They feel like flair.
In conclusion (ugh), I will use the following word that you don’t know because I adopted it and made a pledge to use it in conversation and writing so that it does not fall completely out of usage: I am not robletting you when I suggest that you give Molly Maguire’s a try. The Tipp is dead; long live its successor.