In 1952, when the award-winning movie The Quiet Man was being
filmed on the southwest coast of Ireland, young Francis Burke was working as a
waiter at the famed Ashford Castle. Many of the movie's cast members stayed and
dined at the castle, including the stars, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. The
young man was so impressed with Mr. Wayne that, years later, after coming to
America, he named his pub after the film and in honor of "The Duke."
And, subsequently, Ms. O'Hara even paid a call at Mr. Burke's establishment.
Despite this intriguing bit of history, The Quiet Man resembles just about
every other convivial Irish pub/neighborhood happy-tappy you've ever laid eyes
on. The cozy, bustling -- often smoky -- bar comes replete with comfortable
high-backed booths, television screens, and a charming cast of local characters.
And yet... the moment you enter the diminutive (smoke-free) dining room dressed
in handsome woodwork and adorned with sketches of some of Ireland's favorite
sons, you sense that your taste buds are in for infinitely more than the
all-too-typical assortment of take it or leave it "pub grub."
Of course, if you happen to be in the mood for a grilled open-faced Rueben
($7.95), fresh roasted hot turkey sandwich ($10.95), fat, juicy burger ($7.95),
homemade chicken potpie ($10.95), or delicious "Dublin-style" fish
and chips doused with vinegar and salt ($11.95), you'll find them all present
and accounted for; and Chef Russell Baker, who has presided over The Quiet
Man's kitchen for nearly two decades, will turn them out with considerable
style. But don't be afraid to be a bit more adventurous...
Why not start things off with sautéed slices of slightly crunchy asparagus
served over al dente penne pasta with a touch of browned garlic and
olive oil ($8.95)? Very nice, indeed. As is the beautifully presented Belgian
endive salad ($6.95). Diced apples, pecans, and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese form
a delicious epicenter surrounded by vertically arranged leaves of endive that
protrude above the rim of the bowl like an armada of ancient obelisks. A tangy
balsamic vinaigrette adds just the proper complementary finishing touch.
Another highly regarded appetizer is the combo of grilled eggplant and
tomatoes ($7.95). Add a few roasted peppers, some fresh mozzarella, a warm
basil vinaigrette, and you have a simple but most satisfying prelude to your
meal. If you want to get a bit fancier, however, the kitchen can certainly
oblige. Feel free to indulge yourself in such opening moves as baked Brie in
puff pastry consummated with a zesty port wine sauce ($7.95), or a grilled, sliced
portobello mushroom cap over whipped potatoes spruced up with Madeira wine
But as we move on to the entrées, let us have no misunderstandings... Like
all that has gone before, they would never be accused of being
"gourmet" fare... but neither are they meant to be. What The Quiet
Man does -- and does extremely well, I might add -- is serve up gratifyingly
prodigious portions of well-executed, comforting cuisine at prices that won't
break the bank.
Take the special salmon ($19.95) as a case in point... It is lightly
blackened, just enough to invigorate rather than inundate the fish's natural
flavor, and the accompanying beurre blanc and deliciously decadent
scalloped potatoes find a delightful counterpoint in a zippy tomato salsa
served up in a ramekin of radicchio.
The robust pan-seared pork tenderloin ($18.95) is yet another indication
that Mr. Baker knows what he is about. The "other white meat" is
exceedingly prone to overcooking and has been known to dry and toughen at the
drop of a fork. But these medallions are incredibly moist and succulent,
studded with black pepper, and consummated with a seductive brandy demi-glace
and just a touch of cream. A sumptuous mound of whipped potatoes and fruity
applesauce are most appropriate companions.
Because of their delicate disposition, the grilled chicken breast paillards
($15.95) also have a tendency to turn droughty. But, like the aforementioned
pork, they, too, are quite moist and gently bathed in lemon and olive oil. The
very same addictive whipped potatoes are in attendance, as is a meaty grilled
As you might expect, steak holds a prominent place among the main courses.
And the sirloin strip appears in a number of delicious guises: grilled with
sautéed wild mushrooms and a heady merlot wine sauce ($19.95); pan-seared with
an Irish Whisky demi-glace and splash of cream ($19.95); or grilled and
sliced with white wine and garlic butter sauce ($17.95). All are tender,
immensely flavorful, and heartily recommended.
House-made desserts continue along the homey, hospitable theme. Luscious
rice pudding ($4.50) embellished with cinnamon and currants is comfort food
personified, and the semi-sweet chocolate tart ($5.00), a dense and chewy
delight. You will also find a rustic apple crisp dressed with caramel sauce and
vanilla ice cream ($5.00) and a savory carrot cake ($5.00) to tickle your taste
buds. In my book, however, nothing quite compares to the incredible peanut
butter-chocolate cheesecake ($5.00), a mellifluous mélange of creamy peanut
butter crowned with a mouthwatering layer of semi-sweet chocolate.
Each year, Chef Baker offers up a special menu for St. Patrick's Day. Along
with a number of special appetizers and desserts, the entrées always include such
perennial favorites as traditional corned beef dinner ($12.95), corned beef
sandwich ($9.95), Dublin-style fish n' chips doused with vinegar and salt
($12.95), and Irish lamb, beef, and vegetable stew with whipped potatoes
The Quiet Man is one of those rare establishments with which you strike up a
long-term culinary relationship. Indeed, if my wife and I lived in closer
proximity, we would surely be dining here several times a month. On St.
Patrick's Day, or any day of the year, this charming Irish pub is always worthy
of a visit.
Cuisine: American/Pub Grub
Hours: Mon - Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m.; Sun, 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Credit Cards: All major
Smoking: Smoking is permitted in the bar area only.
Reservations: Not accepted
Parking: Small lot and street parking
Handicapped Accessible: Everything on one level; restroom access