After our recent sojourn in India we have grown a little tired of Indian food. So, when Sue suggested a pub lunch in Rahway we jumped at the idea.
Rahway, the town next to Edison, has undergone considerable change over the last two or three years. It used to be a rundown place with dimly lit streets and tumbledown houses. I used to take the train from Rahway ( to Newark and N.Y.C) once in a while and the station was a disgrace with crumbling platforms and stairwells reeking of piss. Now, the station has been completely renovated , new buildings are springing up and there is a slew of attractive restaurants on Main Street. One of them is Flynn’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse.
As soon as we stepped into Flynn’s we knew we were in an Irish pub. The walls of the cosy L-shaped dining room are plastered with all manner of things Irish : green velvet bows, shamrocks, posters for Guinness, notices in Gaelic with English translations, mirrors advertising Harp and sundry other beers and photographs of Dublin Streets as they were a century ago. It was charming and welcoming as was our waitress who seated us at a table by the window in the horizontal leg of the L.
We quickly placed our drink orders, merlot for the ladies, Blue Moon draught for me, and took stock of our surroundings. Behind us was a well stocked wrap-around bar in rich dark wood with an inviting looking array of bottles ; the sort of bar where you can imagine spending a convivial evening with good friends.Prominently displayed on one wall was a Cuid Thromach Aire ( Important Notice ) giving a countdown of the number of days to St. Patrick’s Day. ” Sure and begorrah, we’ll all have a grand time ” , it proclaimed .When we were at Flynn’s there were still 50 days to go for the Wearing of the Green. The Guinness posters were funny throwbacks to an earlier time. One showed two painters on a hanging scaffold, painting the sides of an aircraft carrier. One of them is saying ” I feel like a Guinness” to which the other responds “I wish you were.” Another Guinness poster showed a brawny lad pulling a cart carrying a puzzled looking horse. “Guinness for Strength” and ” There’s nothing like a Guinness” it trumpeted. Maybe so but you’ll never find me ordering a Guinness. It’s too bitter and heavy for my taste.
The waitress brought us our drinks and we told her our menu choices. My wife had the tuna salad , Sue ordered the Fish and Chips and I had the Shepherd’s pie. She bustled away with our orders and I cast a glance around the dining room. Most of the diners were office workers on their lunch break and almost all of them seemed to have ordered burgers, hearty looking burgers that , made me regret my choice.
My Blue Moon draught was a cloudy orange colored brew served in a large glass and garnished with a slice of orange. It was delicious and I asked the waitress whether it was Irish. “No”, she said, ” it’s from Holland “. She didn’t sound too sure so I looked it up later and found that it is actually made by Molson. It’s a Belgian style witbier ( White beer) made from white oats and barley and flavored with orange peel and coriander. Excellent. I wouldn’t mind having it again.
The last few times that we’ve eaten out, my entree has turned out to be the best of the lot. Not this time. Shepherd’s pie is usually made with minced lamb with a topping of champ ( mashed potatoes) finished in the oven. This one was made with chopped beef and the cap of mashed potatoes was leaden. I should have looked more closely at the menu ; it did say that their Shepherd’s pies were made with beef, as is common in the U.S. Most Americans don’t like the taste of lamb.My wife’s tuna salad was very good , she said, and Sue’s fish and chips was top class. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaky within a crisp thin crust and the chips ( steak fries) were greaseless and toothsome. I sampled a bit of the fish and some chips and regretted my choice of Shepherd’s pie even more. I found myself thinking back to the first time I had fish and chips , over 30 years ago, in England.
We had been on a day tour of the Lake District, made famous by Wordsworth. We didn’t see any daffodils but the atmospheric beauty of Windermere, Grasmere and Derwent Water made a deep impression. We stopped for a pub lunch in the little town of Keswick and I remember my wife both ordered Fish and Chips to go with our bitter. I can still see those platters in my mind’s eye. Each contained a large piece of deepfried breaded fish , orange in color, chips ( thick cut fries) and peas. The fish was plaice , which we in the States call flounder, and the coating was of breadcrumbs, not flour as in the U.S. To this day, I don’t know what the violent orange color was. It wasn’ t turmeric ( which imparts a yellow color). It looked like the color that annato oil imparts but annato is a Puerto Rican/Latin American ingredient and was unknown in the Britain of 30 years ago. The peas were dried peas which had been reconstituted and , surprisingly, they tasted better than fresh ones.There was no tartar sauce but there was something better… malt vinegar which went perfectly with the fish and chips.
Flynns’ Fish and Chips was nothing like what I’ve described above but, in it’s own way, it was very good. The next time I go to Flynn’s , it’s going to be a toss up what I will order– the Hamburger or the Fish and Chips.
As we left Flynn’s the waitress bid us a cheery farewell and I thought to myself what a difference ambience makes. I’ve always considered that food is the most important element when dining out. I wouldn’t really care for the hoity -toity atmosphere of a luxe restaurant nor would I be willing to pay through the nose for it . Give me good honest food and a cosy place that makes me feel welcome. Flynn’s fills the bill in both respects.
Flynn’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse, 1482 Main Street , Rahway, N.J . (732) 381-4700. Open 7 days a week. Monday to Friday. 11Am to 11 PM . Saturday and Sunday 12 noon to 11 PM.