After the sun unexpectedly emerged on a dreary day, we switched luncheon plans from the inviting interior of McNally’s Irish Pub & Kitchen to its exceptional patio, bordering a large public dining plaza shared by several downtown St. Charles favorites.
With the gentle splash of a large, central fountain mingling with the lilting Irish soundtrack at McNally’s, the stage was set for a lovely lunch date. Inside, the pub cultivates a European flavor, the room accented with old stone walls, rich wood, an impressive bar and leather banquette seating.
We began our meal with the signature soup, a winning combination of potato and leek that was creamy and full of flavor, without being salty.
McNally’s opens at 11 a.m. daily, except weekends, when brunch begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. My dining companion knew he couldn’t come to an Irish pub and not order corned beef, but had to make a decision between the brunch’s corned beef hash and the regular menu’s slow-roasted corned beef dinner, with braised cabbage, carrots and new potatoes in a parsley cream sauce.
He chose the hash, which was topped with two eggs selected over easy, complemented by sautéed red and yellow peppers, grilled onions and a choice of toast. The delicious toast turned out to be a house-made soda bread akin to an Irish brown soda bread, more savory than sweet.
Nothing like the corned beef hash our moms served, this dish featured generous slices of corned beef brisket layered into flavorful hash browns with al dente peppers for added color and texture.
“This is the perfect Irish brunch spot,” he said.
I predictably gravitated to the fish and chips, which were excellent. A light beer batter encased moist, tender Atlantic cod, served with piping-hot, house-cut fries and tartar sauce. A superlative coleslaw completed the attractively presented plate.
The full bar offers an array of specialty cocktails, as well as a variety of draft beers and flights for sampling.
While we didn’t have room for dessert, the sweets menu that day offered chocolate cake, cheesecake and the restaurant’s freshly made doughnuts served with three dipping sauces: chocolate, raspberry and caramel.
The motto at McNally’s is “Like Ireland, only closer.” That makes music a regular part of the experience, highlighted in an events calendar on the website. Coming up Sept. 30 will be The Friday Gig, which this week features Afternoon Logic from 6 to 9 p.m. And Funday Sunday on Oct. 2 will spotlight Dennis O’Brien from 4 to 7 p.m. Posters publicize an upcoming performance at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 by Joe Cantafio.
There’s much for all the senses to enjoy at McNally’s.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Kane County Chronicle. The diner’s identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. If the Mystery Diner cannot recommend the establishment, we will not publish a review.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: McNally’s Irish Pub & Kitchen
WHERE: 109 W. Main St., St. Charles