There was plenty of hoopla in 1999 when Pat Troy announced he wanted to move his pub, Ireland's Own, a few blocks from its North Royal Street location. Neighbors insisted it would impact their quality of life. So he moved around the corner, expanded his space and improved the quality of Irish pubs in Virginia.
While most Irish pubs are built for drinking, listening to music, and drinking, this one seems to be designed for eating. The dining area is huge, and spans almost the entire pub; there are even tables on the raised level next to the stage. (By the way, there's live entertainment every night, not all of which includes "The Wild Rover.")
The biggest problem we could see with Pat Troy's is the tiny bar -- it only seats about 14 and threatens to become a bottleneck when the bar is full.
"Restaurant" does come before "pub" in the name, though, and what stands out about Pat Troy's is that even at 9 p.m., this place is clean and bright. "Walking into most Irish pubs is like walking into a cave," commented my companion. "This is like walking into a Denny's."
The feel of Ireland's Own remains -- paintings of small-town Irish life are on the wall, along with family crests and hangings. And President Reagan's Corner -- an area of photos commemorating St. Patrick's Day 1988, when the former president dropped in for lunch -- made the move as well.
The food, for the most part, compares well to similar area establishments. The Cloghan Guinness flank steak cooked, as you'd guess, in a Guinness stout sauce, is tender with a bit of a tang. The shepherd's pie was a treat, flaky, with steaming-hot innards. And the mixed grill -- Irish bacon and sausage, a pork chop, fried egg, potatoes, and puddings both black and white -- is a hearty appetizer for a group.
Be sure to check the time, because there's a lunch menu, a dinner menu and a 10 p.m.-to-close menu. Of course, the Guinness flows freely all day.
-- Fritz Hahn