Kelsey's Irish Pub beyond the usual

Restaurant profile

March 15, 2001|By Jody Vilschick | Jody Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Although they've never been to Ireland, Maureen and Christopher McManus, owners of Kelsey's Irish Pub in Ellicott City, have taken what they've liked from years of working in a variety of restaurants and bars and created Kelsey's.

"I worked my way through college in pubs, and Chris always dreamed of owning his own place," Maureen McManus says. "We brought that to Kelsey's.

"We've really worked hard to create a place where our patrons feel comfortable bringing kids or just hanging out," she adds.

Established in 1994, Kelsey's is opening its expanded bar seating, just in time for its St. Patrick's Day celebration.

"We sell designer buttons to raise money for Special Olympics," Maureen McManus says.

"We encourage people to come back year after year for this special cause. Some people have all seven buttons from the previous years."

Kelsey's, in the Normandy Shopping Center, offers a corned beef sandwich (topped with melted Swiss cheese and served on toasted rye, with fries) and the traditional St. Patrick's Day corned beef and cabbage.

Its "Quiet Man" dinners include chicken pot pie and home-style meatloaf (served over garlic mashers with crispy onions and brown gravy), and, of course, traditional Irish stew (vegetables and pieces of lamb and veal in a thick, flavorful broth).

You can almost picture John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, who starred in "The Quiet Man," sitting down to eat in this pub's dining area.

With its mahogany paneling and rich green decor, it invokes the images of what Americans think a European pub probably should look like.

"We've been told it's got a `gentleman's club' type of feeling," Maureen McManus says.

"Of course, that leaves out half the population, so we like to think of it as a `library' atmosphere."

But not in the bar.

The bar is cozy and dark, a place where you'd expect to find friends to drink with and the brew you prefer.

This St. Patrick's Day, of course, you'll find green draft beer (Guinness on tap) and a variety of Irish-themed drink specials.

In keeping with the spirit of the day, there will be acoustic music. In addition, says Maureen McManus, "There'll be traditional Irish craziness."

Some entrees might be hard to find in pubs on the other side of the Atlantic, such as Tortellini New Orleans (egg and spinach Tortellini filled with cheese and simmered in a Cajun spiced cream sauce with peppers and mushrooms).

Other unusual dishes for an Irish pub include chicken fajita (a flour tortilla stuffed with grilled boneless breast of chicken, spicy cheeses, onions, peppers and rice with sour cream and salsa) and Louisiana Delight (filet mignon and chicken breast dusted with Cajun spices and seared in a cast iron skillet, served with rice smothered in bM-iarnaise sauce).

Kelsey's also offers Shamrock sugar cookies. "We tried to invoke the image of Irish hospitality," Maureen McManus says.

So what about plans to visit Ireland? None at the moment. "But we'd love to go," she says.

Kelsey's Irish Pub

Where: Normandy Shopping Center, 8480 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City; 410-418-9076.

Prices: Appetizers: $5.95 to $8.95; entrees: $5.95 to $15.95.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover.

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