Brazenhead Irish Pub’s overpriced, over-seasoned, over-dressed food not worth the authentic pub atmosphere
Restaurant: Brazenhead Irish Pub, Dublin, Ohio
It’s not every day that I have something bad to say about an Irish pub. I mean, it happens…but not often. One reason I love to eat out at pubs is that there is, almost always, something on the menu for a vegetarian that doesn’t involve a salad. I love the ambiance, the atmosphere, and the friendliness of the staff. Pubs are good for that. They make you feel like you’re visiting old friends, or right at home.
But…it was a bit different with the Brazenhead Irish Pub.
It was a beautiful weekend in Columbus, Ohio. I was in town for a soccer match with my roommate and we were visiting our good friend Jenn. As we tend to eat out once while there, and normally at a pub of some sort (as both Jenn and Cathy are huge fish and chips fans!), we opted to try somewhere we hadn’t been yet. Hence, a journey into Dublin, Ohio and our selection of Brazenhead.
From the outside, Brazenhead Irish Pub looks like an old house. Nothing special. Nothing that screams Irish pub. However, step inside Brazenhead, and you’re almost transported into Ireland. Take it from this girl who has been there four times and eaten in pubs there. The atmosphere at Brazenhead is inspiring. Dark wood, rustic tables, it’s the little touches that help give a pub its authentic feel. The enormous bar to your left as you walk in was absolutely awe-inspiring. And, thank the Irish gods, no crappy tourist music playing “Molly Malone” or “Danny Boy.” I hate it when a pub caters to what American’s think of as “Irish” and put on the hokey tourist music.
We were in for a late lunch this day, but we weren’t the only ones. Quite a few small parties filtered in for a late lunch/early dinner. We sat ourselves around the corner from the bar, near the doors leading out to the back patio. Our server handed us menus, took our drink orders, and let us look things over. My friends knew what they were getting, but I had to do a bit of searching.
While this pub didn’t have something beyond salads for a vegetarian (aka: no veggie burgers or portabella mushroom options) they did have delicious sounding salads, unlike any other pub I’ve gone to. So, my friends ordered their fish and chips (at $12.95) and I put in for the Balsamic Salad ($5.00) with a side of their chips (~$3.00).
Here is the bizarre thing about Brazenhead’s menu. Yes…you get chips with your fish or as a side with a sandwich or burger…but these are chips. Not actual fries. So…in the UK or Ireland, you’re really being served “crisps” and not “chips.” In fact, I do believe this is the first pub that I have been to where fries weren’t even an option on the menu. Very strange for a pub.
Food wasn’t rushed out, which I appreciate. We all had time to wander down to the very dark reaches of the bottom floor to use the bathroom (also dark). I do like knowing that my food, at least, was prepared fresh. I don’t mind a small wait when it comes to food preparation and serving. So, this was perfect. But when it did arrive…I was hungry and ready to eat.
My Balsamic Salad was a simple mix of greens, gorgonzola cheese, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries…which was unfortunately swimming in a healthy dose of balsamic vinaigrette. I normally get salads with dressing on the side to avoid this…but had been fortunate enough in recent history not to have my salad drenched in dressing that I didn’t ask. Aside from the overdose of balsamic vinaigrette, the various components of the salad actually worked really well together. The cranberries added a bit of flavor, which was balanced out by the gorgonzola cheese. The dressing, while a bit much, had the right hint of flavor to tie everything together in the end. So, aside from the generous helping of vinaigrette, the salad was edible.
The chips on the other hand…were salty as hell. No, really. I know it’s engrained in the head of every chef to season, season, season…but there is a difference between seasoning and sending your patrons to the salt lick. And, that’s how I felt at first taste of my side of chips. And I wasn’t alone. Both of my friends had equally salty chips as their sides with their fish. We were doing our best to brush over five days worth of sodium content off our chips with our fingers…but we grew tired of that and just eventually stopped eating them. I was glad I had ordered water as my drink because I think the salt content had sapped all of the hydration in my body. Heavy-handed on the salt is an understatement. It sort of…ruined it for us. Both of my friends said the fish was okay, but for the price they paid, they did expect more than the two small planks served to them.
So, while Brazenhead Irish Pub has the ambiance and the atmosphere, what it lacks is good food. Over seasoned, over dressed…I didn’t go out to eat to drink my salad and then un-season every chip I attempted to eat. This just shows a lack of care in the kitchen. Nothing was tasted. Obviously. Either that, or the chef has a strong liking of salt, because it was way too much. For a country being told to watch their sodium intake, those chips were bucking the new nutritional guidelines. Wow. Unbelievable.
Overall…it was okay. Not enough to make me want to go back. The food was mediocre, which is quite sad for a pub. Pub grub is supposed to be delicious. But Brazenhead fell short. It failed to impress this Irish girl. But…if nothing else, it supplied me with a full year’s worth of sodium. So I’m set now until January.
One day…I’ll just learn to send food back. Get it done right or get it taken off the check. Unfortunately…it didn’t happen that day. Too bad…as it was a high price to pay for over-salted, over dressed, overpriced food. It wasn’t bad…it just wasn’t good.