COLOR: Mellow sunlight, hints of red oak, amber and mahogany
NOSE: Robust, warm and very welcoming, with cheering notes giving way to full-bodied frivolity
TASTE: Complex, well-seasoned, frequently spicy, fresh and tender, strong stout presence with a bit o’ the blarney
FINISH: Long, lingering, integrated, nicely lively, drizzles of warm whiskey
Like a shot of special reserve, a visit to O’Brien’s Pub and Grill is a multi-faceted pleasure that is at once tasty and uplifting. If you’re in the mood for fresh pub grub, there’s no other place like it this side of the San Juans.
At O’Brien’s, every day is Fish and Chips day. The hand-cut, beer-battered cod, made with traditional Pale Ale, is deep-fried golden brown – just crispy enough on the outside to crunch your teeth into, but melt-in-your-mouth flaky where it counts. It’s a house favorite. Douse with malt vinegar and enjoy guilt-free – anything that tastes this good must be good for you – with a generous portion with fries, cole slaw and tartar sauce. Add a Black & Tan for a perfect meal.
From the Fish and Chips to the Guinness Beef Stew to the many tempting taste-points in between, everything on O’Brien’s menu is made fresh from scratch. It’s a neighborhood pub with excellent food and disarmingly friendly service.
The menu can be roughly divvied into traditional pub grub/Irish comfort food (Corned Beef & Cabbage, Bangers & Mashed, Shepherd’s Pie – a thick, savory lamb stew nestled in a little leprechaun-sized pot under a pillow of parmesan-crusted mashed potatoes), and a pleasing variety of homemade soups, pub sandwiches and fresh salads. Signature starters like Beer Battered Dill Pickles are hopelessly addicting.
Setting: O’Brien’s motto is Céad Míle Fáilte, an Irish phrase which translates into “a hundred thousand welcomes.” The pub’s proprietress Jen Greenholt and her top-notch staff, including new chef David Weber who formerly presided over the Beaumont’s kitchen for six years, have done a great job of creating a warm, welcoming, fun atmosphere. Since O’Brien’s opened in 2007, it’s been the gathering spot of choice for many a local, especially when the staff clears the dining room for live music on Saturday nights. Don’t miss it on St. Paddy’s Day!
Libations, drams & oral delights: O’Brien’s has a cure for what ails you. New this year, tipplers can try a whiskey flight – a sampler of four one-ounce pours from a single distillery, ranging from the Middleton Distillery Flight ($13) to the John Jameson Flight ($26). Taste them all and see if you can detect the subtleties of color, nose, taste and finish. Ask your bartender to demonstrate the art of pulling a Black & Tan (pale ale topped with a thick creamy head of Guinness) or try an Irish Car Bomb (a shot of Bailey’s and Jameson’s whisky in a shot-glass sunk like a depth charge in half a pint of Guinness). The Sunday morning Bloody Mary menu is a religious experience.
Who goes there: Respectable citizens, right corkers, rabble-rousers, sophisticates, charlatans, wags, starving artists, shady ladies, trust funders, families, first dates, power lunchers, fire fighters, the constabulary, ice climbers, H.O.G.s, sports fans, all ya’ll, hungry wanderers, party animals, Brothers of the Kilt, leprechauns, The Great Unwashed, the hoi polloi.
Miscellanea: O’Brien’s is a sports bar too. It’s a great place to catch a game, with three TVs going at all times, or play a round of darts. Eat outside on the deck in summer, and admire the most beautiful mural in Ouray. Weekly specials include all-you-can-eat Fish and Chips on Fridays, and Poor and Hungry Mondays ($1 off burgers and Bangers and Mashed all day). Happy hour, every day from 4-6, offers half-price pints and $1 off appetizers. O’Brien’s is also supporting local musicians with live music every Saturday night and in the summer look for acoustic Sundays on the deck during Happy Hour.
Open year-round, 11 a.m.-close (closed Tuesdays)