Fionn McCool’s

We didn’t feel like cooking and we wanted something casual (that seems to be the trend these days) so we decided to try one of the newer places that’s gone in along 116th St in Fishers over the past year. Christopher had a hankering for a beer, and I figured I could find something that wasn’t breaded or wrapped in a pork product, so we gave it a shot.

I was really pleased… Our waitress was very friendly and seemed willing to accommodate us, especially since David was in tow (of course).

Though we normally skip appetizers, the bacon-wrapped bananas sounded intriguing, and after the first bite, I added yet one more way I can tolerate bananas… wrapped in a pork product, it seems. The bites were served with an interesting fruit salsa and mango chutney. It’s certainly not your typical Irish pub fare, but it was worth it.

I opted for a salad for dinner (after the appetizers, it was a good thing) and ordered the spinach salad, sans red onion. The spinach was fresh and since I got dressing on the side, it wasn’t too overwhelming. Everything else (the egg, mushrooms, and bacon, called mashers) were just what I had been in the mood for, apparently.

I also had a cup of the vegetable beef soup, and while it was very good, what was even better ended up being the whole wheat Irish soda bread. I’ve made soda bread before, but this was nutty and delicious, and I loved it. Go figure.

Christopher went for the red pepper penne with chicken. He was assuming it was going to be spicy and was a little disappointed to find that it was more sweet than anything, but it was good enough. I’m sure he’ll order something diferent next time (Shepard’s pie, anyone), and I’m sure there will be a next time.

While we walked right in and sat down (it was a Thursday evening), I’ve heard that it gets packed on weekends. A good lineup of live musicians (usually Celtic music) is scheduled for Saturdays, and there are several drink specials during happy hour. Get off work, meet some friends, and enjoy. My only complaint was that there was smoking permitted (just in the bar) that wafted over to our table. Sigh. If only everywhere could be smoke-free…

MacNiven’s Pub

The sting has worn off since MacNiven’s took over the space previously occupied by Brother Juniper’s, and how lovely to discover that pub food can, in fact, be tasty and not heinously overpriced!

We went on a whim with two out-of-town friends on a beautiful afternoon, so the atmosphere was open, breezy and (understandably) not crowded. We were given our choice of seats, and the waitress was quick to grab drinks. Sadly, no one opted for beer (though if I wasn’t pregnant at the time, I so would have picked something out of the 120+ options they offer.

I went for the grilled chicken sandwich with schezuan sauce and steak fries. Typical, nothing special, but tasty. If anything, I would say it was even a wee bit on the greasy side, but consider the source of that comment: any oil is too much oil, when you’re me. I think most normal people would find it just right. The fries in particular were chunky and crisp on the outside…just the way I like them.

Chris ordered the roast beef MacHatten, which was a slice of thick white bread topped with about half a pound of mashed potatoes (anyone for carbs?!) and a heap of thinly-sliced, lean roast beef. The entire plate was covered in brown gravy, something that just doesn’t get made at our house. I can vouch for how good it was (I helped), and it just right. Not too salty, just enough zip.

Jaysun went all traditional and ordered the fish n chips. A little one the greasy side, but what do you expect? He seemed pleased with his food, except for the fact the was charged extra for an additional dish of tartar sauce.

Louisa’s veggie club sandwich was probably the hit of the table, and the spicy aioli, she said, was excellent. Avocado, sprouts, bell peppers, red onions, and more all topped white toast and came with a side. She tried the sweet peppered neeps (mashed turnips) and enjoyed them a lot. They gave her a very hearty portion and she wasn’t able to finish, but she gave her approval.

One of my favorite parts of the meal was visiting the ladies room. Who are the two sexiest Scottish (or played a Scot) men you can think of? Yep…the walls were covered with photos of Mel Gibson as Braveheart and Sean Connery as 007. Chris said the men’s room also had Bond photos, but in there it was more about the cars and the picture of Halle Berry. To each his own.

All in all, I’m glad we tried MacNiven’s and sorry we waited so long to do so. For a pub, they also offer a surprising number of vegetarian dishes, and I came thisclose to trying the vegetarian haggis. Maybe next time, as I’m certain there will be a next time. Well done!

Plump’s Last Shot

Typical pub food. The salad was brown, and the blackened fish sandwich almost burned my face off, it was so over-flavorful. Lots of neon signs, very few decent menu options unless you’re a fan of porches and domestic beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but we think there are better choices in the neighborhood if you’re looking for a dinner.
One redeeming quality, however, is that if you’re out for a stroll with your pooch along the Monon, they allow dogs on the porch. That service isn’t quite enough to merit an higher rating, but it’s nice that there are some canine-friendly establishments in the neighborhood (besides the Three Dog Bakery up the street). Are you happy now, Paul?

Elbow Room Pub & Deli

Owned by the same folks who take credit for the Aristocrat and Union Jack’s, the Elbow Room serves equally tasty food with a break from standard pub fare. Try Sunday brunch with live jazz. Their omelettes rank up there (though not nearly to Cafe Patachou standards) and the begnies (I know I spelled that wrong) are tasty as well. Plus, who can resist cheese, potatoes, and onions on a Sunday morning?

The Claddagh Irish Pub

Good beer, yes (what traditional Irish pub would be complete without a big tall pint of Guinness?), but forgettable food. What do I remember about the Claddaugh? Some 18-year-old girl wanted to used the restroom during the lunch hour, and they wouldn’t let her in. Nice.

Union Jack Pub

Though under the same ownership as the Aristocrat and the Elbow Room, Union Jack’s doesn’t quite measure up. The menu boasts nothing above standard pub fare (read: mostly fried) but the atmosphere is casual and fun.

Old Point Tavern

Fun, happening place in the middle of the Mass Ave district. Careful, they’ll card you in the evenings. It’s worth it, though, because their sandwiches are pretty decent, the soup is good, and they offer a pretty satisfying beer list.

Slippery Noodle Inn

Claim to fame: Indy’s oldest bar. It’s a fun spot for live blues and other kinds of music. They serve dinners, but don’t quit the night job. Other claim to fame: one of the few places I have been utterly, embarrassingly smashed. At least I have a Jägermeister t‑shirt to show for it.

Aristocrat Pub

Pages and pages of menu options offer something for everyone, from huge dinner salads and unique pasta dishes to sandwiches and steaks. Great Sunday brunch offers omelettes and those really yummy cheesy potatoes.

Chalkie’s Restaurant & Billiards

Smoke-free, upscale pool hall with many beers on tap and surprisingly good food (try the french fries…really!). 18 billiard tables. 21 and over only