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Molly Maguire’s in Dallas: An Initial Impression

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.

21 comments on “Molly Maguire’s in Dallas: An Initial Impression

  1. Um, actually in Dublin they serve Guinness cold (& fresh from the brewery); some places even offer it extra-cold with a special cooling system built into the tap. Warm beer is for the English.

  2. just got back from Dublin a month ago. All the Guinness I drank was cold. And good.

    This place was packed last Friday. Paddy Gone wild was playing and the lovely young ladies from Maguire’s Academy were dancing.

    Our server was excellent. Despite the huge crowd, she was on top of it all.

    Nice spot.

    Pilsner Urquell, a nice Czech Beer.

  3. F*ck the English. That bald guy looks either gay (maybe it’s just the shirt?) or like some lace-curtain Mick.

  4. When I visited Ireland in ’02, all the rage was a new-ish Guinness product called “Extra Cold”. I believe that it was just a colder version of the original formula but was dispensed from a special tap like the one mentioned in this article.

    Perhaps the Guinness at Molly Maguire’s will come closer to this version of the Irish original and be more accepted here?

  5. Why would you open a restaurant, all the while knowing your “new foodie friendly chef” is starting in September… Assuming their will be some noticeable improvement in food following their arrival you’ve already potentially done a lot of damage and lost a lot of the buzz of dropping some cash on a name brand.

  6. I actually went to Molly Maguire’s a couple of weekends ago (on a Sunday night), and, I hate to be mean, but it was pretty awful. To begin with, they were out of about every beer we ordered (including standards, like newcastle and even Miller Lite). Secondly, the waitress took forever, and brought the wrong food when it finally came. She was also unable to described the difference between the sweet potato fries and the sweet potato puffs, stating the the fries were simply “longer strips” than the puffs (fyi, the puffs, which are pretty good, are essentially sweet potato tater-tots). Lastly, the food was overpriced ($10 for a portabella burger which had nothing on it other than a mushroom and mustard) and, with the exception of the Ruben, not very good. Unless things change drastically from my visit, I don’t see this place being open very long.

  7. All I can say is “Long Live Molly Maguire’s”!
    I hope people realize how lucky they/we are to have a traditional Irish pub of this caliber in Dallas..I used to go to the old Tipp and it was pretty good as an Irish pub but Mollys has really nailed it. Food-fantastic.. Beer,scotch,whiskey selections-fantastic…Service-outstanding.
    Btw..i’m addicted to the bangers and mash.

  8. Though my mother’s name is Muldoon, I’ve never been to Ireland. (Please don’t bring up the cousin’s wedding there that I chose to skip. It’s still a sore subject.) Anyway, thanks, all, for the correction about the temps at which beers are served on the Emerald Isle. The flipside to that point I was trying to make, though, is that it’s HOT here. Beer’s gotta be cold. (And I still don’t think frosty-cold Guinness tastes right.)

    A couple more words about the food: I question the decision to fancy up the fare. To me, Molly Maguire’s is a neighborhood pub (that will draw some folks from farther afield). I’m not looking to pay $18 for corned beef and cabbage nor $14 for half a chicken. As it is, the only one of the nine entrees that’s under $12 is the vegetable plate, which is $10. I’d go for a lower price point.

  9. I recently passed through Schiphol airport in Amsterdam and noticed two side by side taps for Heineken at a bar. One was normal, and the other literally had ice frozen around it. It said something like “Heineken Extra Cold” on it. I guess ice cold beer isn’t just for Americans anymore.

  10. Tim, which is why I prefer half price food Wednesdays at the Meridian Room….and they have Guinness.

  11. @Mr. Crisp – you look like a douche bag (maybe it’s just your inappropriate slur?). There’s nothing wrong with the English, the bald guy, his shirt, or with gay people being in a pub.

  12. Scarpettafan: Ditto on the rejection of the bigoted comments. As a clarification-the English (as well as the Scottish, Irish and Welsh) do not serve warm beer. Lager (such as Stella; Harp; Heineken, etc) is chiiled as it is piped to the pumps, whereas the tradional bitter (e.g. Young’s or Sam Smith’s) is piped at cellar temperature (which is definitely not warm). Big distinction for people who actually enjoy a decent pint of bitter.

  13. There has to be a bet proposal that would require Celeste to grow out the Friar/Tebow look. Tim, please make that happen.

  14. Most Beautiful Pub in Dallas – how does one get that title, but I surely don’t agree!

    The Tipp’s business model was a failure and with minimal to no changes, what will make Molly’s survive? After my visit last week, I would keep the For Lease sign handy.

    Yes, the larger restaurant (left side) does have a great temperature, but the other area where the restrooms are located is unbearable. We are mid-summer, but again it was unbearable! Members of our party had to share time between both sides to avoid the heat.

    In between visits to lower our body temps, we were amazed at the smell of fish. Not cooked fish, I’m talking smelly fish market. It was unpleasant and we had to leave.

    Tipp – high prices, no happy hour specials, marginal food. Molly’s seems like the same place with a different sign out front. There’s too many other places with much better food and prices!

  15. In order for Celeste to grow the Tebow, he’s gonna need some help from my special Club. I’m also a client, you know.

  16. The proper way to serve Guinness is cold. A warm Guinness has gone off, maybe that’s why a good Guiness don’t taste right to you.

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