By Jason Gatsby, TSB’s Chow Hound
I’m rummaging through my closest, desperately searching for my green Nike’s and my Boston Celtics jersey, because on St. Patrick’s Day, like many others, I am magically transformed into all things Irish. Leading up to the special day I find myself slowly adopting an Irish accent and over indulging on Shamrock Shakes. In the evenings I’m always proud to discover how well my accent has improved with every Guinness consumed. (It’s funny how that happens.)
In preparation for the big day, my confidants and I decided to take a trip to McKinney’s own “Delaney’s Restaurant and Irish Pub,” located in the Market Street shopping center on Eldorado Parkway and Ridge Road. The Clevenger family, former owners of Bubba Moose Sports Bar and Grill, acquired Delaney’s Pub with the notion of making it better than ever.
Delaney’s is one of the few bars on the west side of McKinney. So, with few options to choose from, Delaney’s easily exploits the happy hour crowd that lives within 4 miles. The Irish Pub offers more than 50 beers on tap in addition to daily food and drink specials. Happy hour is available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and includes $3 well drinks, $3 domestic pints, $4 select wines, and 50 cents off craft and specialty pints.
Even though the drinks and the menu items are enticing, consistency has always been my biggest concern whenever the general consensus among my friends is to dine at Delaney’s. Unfortunately, my concern proved to be true. I wanted desperately to have good meal, but my expectations fell short of the mark.
Upon entering the establishment, I kept my fingers crossed with hopes of getting a conscientious server. Too many times I’ve encountered an uncouth and irritable server. Tonight we lucked out; our server was cheerful and gracious. A bit too candid perhaps, but maybe she was just feeling excessively friendly on this particular evening. For a weeknight, the bar was full of lively patrons, laughing and conversing over beers and cocktails.
Delaney’s menu is fairly large and offers a variety of options to accommodate most patrons. Feeling exceptionally Irish, I focused my decisions on the house specialties, which Delaney’s fittingly denotes on menu with an asterisk.
My colleagues looked at me apprehensively when I ordered the Gravy Fries ($6.99) and the Irish Egg ($8.99). The Gravy Fries reminded me of French Onion Soup — fries topped with brown onion gravy and Gruyere cheese. To my disappointment, the Gravy Fries fell short of any French Onion Soup that I have ever consumed. The gravy was not rich and succulent, but glistened with excess cornstarch as it cemented against my pallet. I decided to pass on a second serving and asked politely for the Irish Egg. Also known as a “Scotch Egg,” the Irish Egg consists of a hard boiled egg, wrapped in seasoned sausage, rolled in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried until golden brown. Fortunately, the egg was absent of any overdone green yolk, which was a good start. The crunchy exterior, accompanied with a sausage and egg, equated to a delicious bite. Delaney’s could only enhance their Irish Egg with the addition of a sauce to cut the deep-fried richness of the egg; Dijon mustard sauce, an aioli, or sweet jelly would complete the dish. All of us at the table, however, were fighting over the side of delightful homemade latkes that supplemented the Irish Egg.
When dining at Delaney’s, I recommend having a general idea of what you have your heart set on eating before you arrive. Delaney’s offers an assortment of sandwiches, house favorites, croissants, pitas, hoagies, hamburgers, salads, and wraps. For a second, I thought I was at the Cheesecake Factory as I thumbed through the menu breaking down possible selections into separate categories. Feeling overwhelmed, I asked, “Which of the house favorites would you recommend?” She answered openly and honestly and said, “The Shepherd’s Pie, but don’t get the Ribeye — the cooks rarely cook it correctly.”
I was a bit taken aback by her forthcoming response, but we took her advice and then supplemented her suggestion with our own decisions. Finally, we decided upon the Shepherd’s Pie ($9.99), Delaney’s Ruben ($8.99), Famous Fish and Chips ($12.99), and the Turkey Burger ($8.99).
Due to the mediocrity of the appetizers, I anxiously awaited our entrees, as I was hoping to put a dent in my growing hunger. Fortunately, little time passed between our appetizers and entrees as the food came out in timely fashion. Aesthetically pleasing, all the entrees appealed to the eyes, but that’s where it ended.
The Fish and Chips were the highlight of the meal — two large pieces of Cod, deep-fried in a light batter with French fries and tarter sauce. The dish is a British staple, and exceeded my expectations, but the after-taste left me wondering, “When was the last time they changed their fry oil?”
With beautifully piped mashed potatoes, I had high hopes for the Shepherd’s Pie. Sadly, I believe the gravy from the fries was used in the Shepherd’s Pie as it looked oddly familiar. The dish wasn’t special, lacking depth of flavor from herbs and spices. To put it simply, the Shepard’s Pie was “fine.” Similarly, the turkey burger required heavy doses of ketchup and mustard to reconstitute the meat with moisture. Delaney’s, may I recommend a homemade rich honey mustard sauce with a dash of Worcester to accompany the turkey burger?
When choosing sides to supplement your entree, I recommend keeping it simple with either French fries or Sweet potato fries. If you are watching your caloric intake, the side salad is a great option, but don’t order the seasonal vegetables. The vegetables are sautéed with too much oil in the pan, removing any taste of squash, and all you’re left with is grease on your pallet.
The Ruben was piled high with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on marble rye. Personally, I’m partial to Russian dressing, but Delaney’s Thousand Island is a close second. Their bread was on the soggy side, but overall the hearty sandwich cured my hunger.
Feeling disappointed, we weren’t sure if we wanted to order desert, but that didn’t matter because we weren’t offered any. Our waitress made our decision easy, and set the check down on the table before we could decide if we wanted something sweet.
Before leaving, we took a few minutes to extensively discuss our meal. We agreed that Delaney’s has a decent weekend brunch, but overall, their food is lackluster. Despite tightly clad waitresses, I sometimes feel the “sexy” server idea is jaded and overdone. If that’s what Delaney’s is going for then great, but please hire waitresses who smile on occasion.
Even though my friends and I may not elect to eat a full meal at Delaney’s, we will continue to partake in their happy hour specials and their special events. On their website, Delaney’s has an up-to-date calendar indicating nights with trivia and live music.
The Clevenger family should dine at their own restaurant more often to get a better understanding of what patrons endure.
Delaney’s Irish Pub
6150 W. Eldorado Pkwy
McKinney TX 7570
Overall: 2 stars
Food: one and a half
Cocktails: two and a half stars
Service: two stars
Atmosphere: two and a half stars
Price $ to $$
FOUR STARS = Extraordinary; THREE STARS = Excellent; TWO STARS = Good; ONE STAR = Fair; NO STARS = Poor
$ = Inexpensive: entrees $10 and under; $$ = Moderate: $11-$17; $$$ = Expensive: $18-$24; $$$$ = Very Expensive: more than $25