Anyone can own or run a pub. But not just anyone can live up to the title of "publican," the special classification of innkeeper who can make you feel welcome
The folks at in Fanwood get it. From the simple decor and easy intimacy in the cozy establishment to the sturdy and delicious pub fare and funky, interesting specials, this is the place you visit to lower your blood pressure and enjoy the company of friends, some of whom you're just about to meet.
We dodged the raindrops on a raw, chilly evening and walking through the front door, I was transported back to my pub-crawling days through many trips to Ireland and Scotland.
We found a couple of bar tables near the front window and while the umbrellaed tables on the sidewalk mocked us with the promise of a bite and a drink in better climes, we were more than happy to be inside on a Friday evening.
With soccer or rugby matches, or even U.S. sports, on the TVs throughout the bar, it's easy to sit at the bar and strike up conversations with anyone. Our bartender, Lou, set the perfect tone. He was funny, engaging and helpful. A mishap with one of the O2 lines in the Smithwick's keg rendered a couple of flat pints. The minute we bashfully mentioned it, he said, "Well, that won't do" and remedied it immediately and with good cheer. Our dining companions have a son named Lou and they exchanged all the nicknames — acceptable or not — for those sharing the Louis moniker. He was tickled, too, that we mentioned the particularly fun and diverse music — from rock and funk to country and punk. "Thanks, I made the mix myself," he said.
Our group came hungry and willing to sample many of the specialties. We started with piles of appetizers. The highlights included the Celtic Wings (we opted for the Buffalo, but other flavors include Honey BBQ and Teriyaki, $9.95/dozen), which packed a jab not a full-fledged wallop. The Guinness-battered Onion Wings ($7.95) were so good, we almost had a knife fight over the last one.
The mixed-greens salad ($7.95) featured Tossed Baby Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Dried Cranberries, Crumble Bleu, Candied Walnuts and Garden Vegetables, tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette, was fresh and flavorful. Add in shrimp or chicken and it's a perfect full meal.
We all shared a variety of the entrees, from the Ale-Battered Fish & Chips ($13.95) to the Blackened Fish of the Day — in this case, Tilapia with a sweet Creole remoulade ($8.95) — were terrific offerings from the seas. The creamy Irish Cheddar Grilled Cheese ($6.95), tangy Asian BBQ Short Rib Po' Boy ($8.95) and, well, Flannery's Burger ($8.95) were great offerings from terra firma. The spouts on the burger almost made me feel a little healthful as we gobbled the burger.
All the elements in this hotspot make it a perfect place to grab a bite, meet a group of friends for a pint, or head over and meet some new acquaintances.