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Into Shelley’s Belly: Idle Rich Pub

Vegaetarian Burger, upgraded (photos by Matthew Shelley)
Vegaetarian Burger, upgraded (photos by Matthew Shelley)

My crotchety old neighbor used to tell me that the way to a woman’s heart is through your own. Get a knife, jam it into your chest, pull out your beating blood engine, and then give it to her on some fine china. Ok, so my neighbor wasn’t the most romantic soul, and he died alone with his thirteen cockatiels screaming bloody murder for three days until someone finally called the police. The reason I’m telling you this is because his birthday is this month and he loved beer. To celebrate the old bastard, I decided to commemorate his bitter Irish soul by going to one of my favorite Irish bars in Dallas, The Idle Rich Pub.

Idle Rich’s age-worn, wooden interior lends itself to a community gathering as well as to one of those nights when you sink into the darkness of the pub’s loving bosom for some much-needed privacy and ale. Nothing about this place is guarded, and you are welcome to be here.

The Idle Rich entrance
The Idle Rich entrance
Julius Echter Hefeweizen (left); table (right)
Julius Echter Hefeweizen (left); table (right)

Being in an Irish pub, I decided to keep my beer choices out of America for the evening. And so with the weather warming, I chose the Blanche de Bruxelles witbier from Brasserie Lefebvre in Belgium. It’s a family owned brewery dating back to 1876, and they sure know what the hell they’re doing. Belgium’s beers are daring and personal, and they rarely follow the rules of the rest of the world’s accepted formulas. This beer, also known as Mannequin Piss, as you can see on the bottle, is a bright, citrusy, straw colored brew that has plenty of carbonation and is very crisp and refreshing. It’s light and perfect for summer, and the moniker it’s known by is just friggin’ sweet. I also ordered a cheese plate with three items to start. Their housemade pâté had a chilled, meaty richness, but it wasn’t too strong. It was very finely textured and also had a slight mushroom note. I also chose the Welsh rarebit, which is cheddar blended and cooked with beer and spices. It was served warm, and I dipped the bread in it over and over. It had a sensuous creaminess with a mild kick and a hint of mustard spice. I scraped the bowl clean on this one. Lastly, I chose the Humboldt Fog. This goat’s cheese has a grassy blue cheese tanginess that finishes with a sweeping smoothness and notes of citrus and herbs. Together, the plate was thoughtful and delicious. Accompanied by the cleansing acidity of grapes, almonds, raisins, bread and water crackers, this board served the continuing essence of love and conviviality that Idle is so well known for.

The Cheese Board
The Cheese Board

For the main course, I went for the vegetarian burger made in-house with lentils, Bulgar wheat, leeks, mushrooms, corn, cashews and spices. I decided to add the Monterey jack, spicy chipotle salsita and avocado for an extra dollar. I might not get to eat tomorrow, but this will more than suffice. The burger again keeps the anthemic nostalgia of the pub with its earthy textures and flavors and homegrown genuineness that I so love in this place. The bun is full and supple with a slight crunch. It balances the softness of the tender-bodied veggie patty with the cheese and avocado; and spiciness of the salsita kicks this bad son-of-a-wolverine to another level of love. On the side, I chose the seafood chowder, and after a moment I realized I was hunched over the bowl, relishing every bite like a rabid centaur. With mussels, crunchy veggies, and a deep, rich seafood creaminess, this little bowl of chowder sang and screamed and gently caressed my tender parts with all the passion and eloquence of a seafaring lover born from the breast of the black sea. I finished off the meal with another bright and summer friendly beer, this time from Germany. The Julius Echter Hefeweizen comes in a beautiful 16 oz. bottle and pours with a thick, enduring head. The aroma is full of wheat and grain, and the deep golden hue sits happily in the tall glass. It’s got a superbly round-mouth feel, a hay-scented texture, and a fruity wheat finish. This beer is easy to drink even with lots of carbonation, but it’s one of those that deserves patience and attention.

Blance de Bruxelles, aka Mannequin Piss
Blance de Bruxelles, aka Mannequin Piss

The Idle Rich Pub is part of a beautiful family of bars in Dallas that have been here for many years and will continue to serve us for many more to come. On a Saturday night after 11 p.m., you can barely walk through Idle Rich, Black Friar, Renfields, or the ever-classic Old Monk. They all have the staying power that Dallas so desperately needs, and in the environment of fast changing bar fronts and restaurants, these lovelies have found the secret of sustainability in a fickle market. They are all a part of the streets they inhabit; they’re all open doors and patios that live in perfect coalescence with the neighborhoods surrounding them. Their approachability, friendly ambience, character driven offerings and attention to detail in their food and drink provide us with a home feeling that echoes something ancient and untouchable. Every time I come here, I’m reminded of my years tending bar at the Prancing Pony. Aragorn would swing by complaining about orcs and sometimes Gandalf would shoot fireworks for the kids just outside. Wait, that’s from the Lord of the Rings. In reality, the Idle Rich pub has many more offerings that are always creative and beckon the Irish nature of their purpose and personality. The pub is a citizen of this great city and I love them. Thank you.

One comment on “Into Shelley’s Belly: Idle Rich Pub

  1. Their attention to details, well trained staff, great food and outstanding beer selection have given them an edge up from the day they opened.