From the outside, Maggie Smith’s suburb-surrounded pub looks like a promising lunch spot for the DTC crowd, or a nice place for a quick date-night dinner before a show. With its clean and inviting emerald-toned atmosphere inside and a beautiful outdoor fire [it, to boot, the eatery has the look of a classic and inviting Irish restaurant. After all, it’s owned by the same group that created the beloved Irish Snug downtown and the popular DTC hangout Slattery’s, in the Landmark shopping center.
But if it’s your turn to choose a lunch or dinner venue for your office or group outing and you want to keep your credibility with friends or co-workers, Maggie Smith’s is ill-advised.
For starters, the place is more of a sports bar that sells Guinness and Irish whiskey than it is an Irish pub, which is fine if you’re not in it for the food, because you’ll appreciate it as a comfortable gathering place. There’s plenty of space to enjoy your drinks at the bar or have a nice chat over a pint of Smithwick’s in a quiet booth with a friend. Unfortunately, on my visit, that’s where the charm ended. Based on the popularity of poutine these days, you may be inclined to try the French-Canadian snack of fries covered in cheese curds and gravy, to which Maggie Smith's adds brisket. But sadly, the pub was out of the appetizer when I ordered it. I could understand this being the case at 11 p.m. on a busy Saturday night, but I was a bit confused that they were plumb out of brisket at 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday.
We opted instead for an order of corned beef egg rolls, which maintained a crisp shell even when loaded with moist corned beef and slightly tangy cabbage, and Brussels sprouts, which wore a viscous goo intended to be sweet-and-sour, but was instead overly sweet and not-so-sour. A heavy peanut-to-sprouts ratio further unbalanced the dish. I was relieved when the waiter told me that the kitchen had plans to change the recipe to replace the sticky red sauce and peanuts with blue cheese and bacon (and a recent revisit of the menu revealed bacon, Parmesan and a dubious "truffle-infused honey drizzle.")
Unfortunately, Maggie Smith’s was also experiencing a (mashed) potato famine on the night of my visit, as the restaurant was unable to provide any dish that included mashed potatoes. Consequently, the bangers and mash had been eighty-sixed, as had the shepherd’s pie, while the lamb meatloaf and corned beef were offered with a consolation side of French fries. We chose the corned beef despite the absence of mash, and while the meat itself was flavorful and tender, the plate of meat and undercooked cabbage with an awkward side of fries had me feeling more than a little disenchanted. Not only was this disappointing, it was perplexing, since there is a grocery store that sells plenty of potatoes within half a mile in either direction on Arapahoe Road (and the host didn’t exactly look busy as he sat staring out the window for the majority of the night).
While the black-and-white pudding that I added to the traditional Irish breakfast was quite delicious and well-seasoned, the rest of the dish was dull and flavorless. I have a feeling that the chicken-and-mushroom pot pie had the potential to shine, with its flaky pastry crust and generous chicken and vegetable chunks within. Regrettably, it contained a heavy burnt flavor and gave me the impression that it was sitting at the bottom of the pan for much too long before being served.
The pub has shown that it can pull off decent bar fare in the south suburbs, if only it would boost a few flavors and pay attention to its inventory. Could I see myself enjoying a night out at Maggie Smith’s throwing back several pints of Irish beer mixed with a whiskey or two? Absolutely! And if food is a secondary consideration and you just need a spacious setting in which to catch up with old friends over a quick sandwich or enjoy happy hour after a stressful day in the DTC or continue the party after a concert at Fiddler’s Green, then Maggie Smith’s will prove a welcoming venue. After all, if you’re enjoying the large selection of libations — whether Scotch or Irish whiskey or one of the multiple brews on tap — Irish egg rolls (that staple of Irish pubs in America) or even Brussels sprouts make an adequate base for absorbing booze when you're three sheets to the wind. Just don't pin all your hopes on any one dish, in case the kitchen runs out.
Maggie Smith’s Irish Pub is located at 6631 South Peoria Street in Englewood and is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, with weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The pub offers happy-hour specials twice daily, from 3 to 7 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to close. Call 303-999-2010 or visit the pub's website for more information.