Exceptional Irish pubs are few and far between here. Sure, we have some very good examples, such as Rí Rá and McMullan’s Irish Pub. But I’m hungry for any spot that will even pay lip service to the concept. I was optimistic once about the Sean Patrick’s chain of video poker bars, but it offered little that was Irish other than its name and a devotion to Guinness. And when it was purchased by Golden Entertainment—best known for its chicken wings at PT’s—there didn’t appear to be much reason to expect significant change—at least on the surface. As anyone who seriously follows the local food scene knows, however, PT’s has a secret weapon in corporate vice president of food and beverage Joe Romano.
Romano, whom I profiled in Vegas Seven (“From Foie Gras to Chicken Wings,” July 3, 2014), isn’t your typical bar-food chef. On the contrary, he’s a classically trained chef who spent 10 years in the Charlie Palmer organization and opened that celebrity chef’s perennial Las Vegas favorite, Aureole. When I embarrassed myself with an abysmal performance at a charity Guinness pouring competition at a Sean Patrick’s in March, Romano assured me he was updating the menu to include some Irish dishes. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he had a few good tricks up his sleeve, and so I waited and waited … until receiving word several weeks ago of a menu change.
Before I get into the additions, don’t get too excited. Sean Patrick’s is still primarily a gaming bar, and the menu leans heavily on PT’s favorites such as wings, sliders and burgers. But you can now have your potato skins loaded with Guinness-braised corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and horseradish cream, and your wings coated in Jameson Irish Whiskey sauce. The entrée section also now features such dishes as chicken breast with peas, cabbage, potatoes and soda bread; a corned beef hoagie; and, of course, good ol’ corned beef and cabbage alongside other nods to the Emerald Isle.
A favorite among the new dishes is the bangers and champ: sausages in gravy served with mashed potatoes, peas and soda bread. The subtly spiced imported British pork banger is delicious, as is the thick and rich brown onion gravy. And the soda bread, which accompanies most of the Irish dishes, is just a touch moist and has a light sweetness.
Another clear winner among the newcomers to the menu is the Monaghan’s Meatloaf. It’s a loaf of blended beef, lamb and pork with a Guinness glaze and a rich, semisweet sauce that conjures up images of the dollop of ketchup Mom used to bake into her meatloaf. Almost as good are the fish and chips: flaky cod in a crispy, light golden-brown batter served with an extra citrusy tartar sauce.
Other good choices include both the steak and shepherd’s pies. The former has more of a Guinness bite than any of the other dishes featuring the obligatory Irish stout, and comes with some exceptional light and flaky puffed pastry. The latter is a fairly straightforward rendition of the classic that is done quite well. Unfortunately, I have yet to try the corned beef other than that found on an order of cheesy potato chips, when it was little more than dried-out jerky. But that won’t stop me from returning to see what it’s like in a more traditional recipe.
I’ve only been to one of the Valley’s four Sean Patrick’s locations, but the menu is the same all around. So I can only assume that the atmosphere (a typical neighborhood bar with a bit of a nod to Ireland), the friendly neighborhood vibe and service are similar as well. They’re not threatening to take a spot among the city’s elite Irish drinking and dining establishments anytime soon, but Romano is providing a place for those who live nearby to at least momentarily quench their Irish cravings as well as their thirst.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Bangers and champ ($13)
- Monaghan’s Meatloaf ($13)
- and fish & chips ($13)
Irish Pub & Grill Multiple locations, PTEGLV.com. Open 24 hours. Dinner for two, $20-$40.