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The Irish Inn at Glen Echo - Owner Chris Hughes on Tulane Avenue Just off MacArthur Boulevard


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I went to The Irish Inn at Glen Echo last night with friends to celebrate the guest of honor's 31st birthday. The restaurant was chosen (not by me) based on experiences in the Pub downstairs - which seemed to be a relaxing corner of the world if you're looking for a professionally-poured Guinness (with noticeable shamrock stamped in the foam) and authentic Shepard's Pie. Unfortunately, the group chose to dine aloft in the more formal dining room to properly pay respect to the auspicious occasion.

The restaurant seated our party of 10 in a semi-private niche in the corner of the dining room. Somehow they stuffed a large table with chairs in the space, so to call it intimate is an understatement when you add 10 fully grown adults.

Our server was quite green...if he knew the wine list, he certainly didn't show it very well, and it would have served him well to familiarize himself with the correct pronunciation of the daily specials ("chorizo," while perhaps not ubiquitous in Australia from where our server hailed, it certainly is not a hard word to pronounce - or shouldn't be). Regardless, the entire staff was quite attentive and patient with us. Two of our party got lost on the way to the Inn, so we took our time ordering to buy a bit of time for them to find us.

We finally ordered appetizers - I opted for the potato-leek soup (~ $10) as I'm in search of a restaurant that does it well. It was a comfortable bowl - nothing that made me want to break out a roll to soak up the remainder at the bottom. Others had the salmon carpaccio which came with hard boiled eggs, capers and marinated cucumber salad, and caesar salads. Appetizers ranged from $15 to $8.

Entrees came in a timely manner (maybe they were trying to speed us along but we weren't paying attention)...I chose the Roasted Salmon with herb gnocchi and sautee of early fall vegetables Nicoise ($25). The salmon was cooked to a medium/medium rare and presented over a beautiful array of colorful veggies. Unfortunately there really wasn't much flavor on the plate except the gnocchi which were good - nice consistency, fresh and full of herb. Veggies included cherry tomatoes, baby zucchini, carrot, green beans, and olives - flavorful for the eyes, not the palatte. The surprise on the plate was a generous dollop of caviar...surprised mainly because I have no idea what the chef thought the caviar would add to the dish. Those who ordered the rack of lamb seemed content with the generous portion, the steak eaters seemed slightly disappointed (although they were at the far end of the table and couldn't get specifics), and the fish of the day (a Wahoo? served with potato latke and a grilled tomato coulis) fell just short of expectations. The one highlight I could find was the mashed potatoes. If they had offered a side plate of the mashed Boniato potatoes, I would have gotten two - they were smooth and creamy with a hint of rendered bacon. YUM! The woman to my left was generous enough to share a spoonful or two with me. smile.gif

We skipped dessert, opting to finish drinks and order a few glasses of scotch. Finishing around 10 PM, we were the only remaining diners upstairs (and at least a third of the remaining patrons in the entire restaurant & pub.

While dinner wasn't horribly expensive (about $70 per person), I didn't feel the quality of food lived up to the price tag. If I lived nearby, I'd opt to travel down MacArthur Blvd. to Blacksalt or skip up the road to Old Angler's Inn where I could spend the same amount (or a tad bit more) for a much more memorable meal.

Bottom Line: it wasn't worth the gas but the company was phenomenal!

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The grandparents-in-law live close by, so we often do family things at the Irish Inn at Glen Echo. I don't really have anything to add to MelGold's post; the food's not bad, but probably a bit overpriced.

What is strange, though, is the pricing on their wine list. Looking through it last night, I noticed that a $7.00 bottle of Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir was $48! Ouch! The only other wine that I recognized and knew the bottle price off the top of my head was a Cakebread Chardonnay that retails for around $36 and was $86 on the list, so I guess that the 600% markup isn't standard. :)

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Ah, memories. My then-girlfriend and I double-dated here for dinner before junior prom 15 years ago -- at that point, I was far from a foodie and even then I thought the food was rather mediocre.

(things actually went further downhill later that evening and it turned out to be my Worst Date Ever!)

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Ah, memories. My then-girlfriend and I double-dated here for dinner before junior prom 15 years ago -- at that point, I was far from a foodie and even then I thought the food was rather mediocre.

(things actually went further downhill later that evening and it turned out to be my Worst Date Ever!)

I believ that the you were at a previous incarnation of that establishment, called merely the Inn at Glen Echo (no Irish). See this review from 2004.

The old Inn, a sometimes stop after bicycling to Great Falls, was long on charm but shorter even, I'm sure, than the current iteration on fine food.

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Ah, memories. My then-girlfriend and I double-dated here for dinner before junior prom 15 years ago -- at that point, I was far from a foodie and even then I thought the food was rather mediocre.

(things actually went further downhill later that evening and it turned out to be my Worst Date Ever!)

The old Inn at Glen Echo had almost no pretense and, because of that, its reach rarely exceeded its grasp. It probably had the most interesting, eclectic group of barflies in Montgomery County, and served as a neighborhood joint as well as a restaurant attempting to have wider appeal. The Irish Inn has better food, and is more upscale than its predecessor, but lacks the character that made the old Inn charming and inviting.
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My girlfriend and I stumbled upon The Irish Inn this past Sunday while house-hunting in the area. We were going to head to Black Market or Cafe Deluxe (our two Sunday evening haunts) but decided we'd try out this local place we'd never hear of. We decided to sit outside as it was a beautiful evening and the deck was quite lively -- i had a good vibe. Our server promptly took our drink orders and provided an overview of the menu and identified the specials. Without going in excruciating details, we were less than enthused with our entrées; though both were recommended. The lamb stew contained tough scraps of lamb, three contained substantial veins. No succulent or tender lamb found. The seafood stew was nothing special -- it was primarily frozen salmon and catfish. The Guinness, thankfully, was exceptional. We'll go back for the Guinness.

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I think I need to go to this place for sentimental reasons. I grew up in Glen Echo and my dad taught darkroom classes at the Park for years. When I was a little I remember going to the place that is now The Irish Inn, but then it was a dive called Travs. No doubt there was beer drinking on carved up wooden tables, there was the white rubbish riding motorcycles. But I was with my dad, eating chili passing time til my was finished studying.

[Don, go ahead and delete it]

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Went here recently when some friends invited us to join them. They were surprised that we hadn't been in seven years or so, given that we live about a mile and a half away. That's what I call a clue, but anyway...

The fish and chips were surprisingly good. Three large pieces of fish, thin batter, crispy (initially), excellent tartar sauce (lots of dill), chips were unremarkable (thin, perfectly cooked, boring). Mr P's bangers and mash, well, not so good. The bangers were boring: little flavor and a texture so soft they seemed more like pudding than meat. Mashed potatoes had a mild generic starch taste, and the peas were starchy, too. The brownie sundae had about the worst vanilla ice cream ever. The stuff was more like a lackluster ice milk, heavy on the ice.

The rest of the group really enjoyed their food. The vegetarian was pleased that several dishes were already vegetarian and could easily be made vegan.

It would be a nice place for a neighborhood "I don't feel like cooking tonight" kind of dinner, except that the prices are pretty high (entrees in the $20s) for what they offer. The items under "traditional" (like the dishes mentioned above) are priced in the teens. I would place it solidly on the "places I'm willing to go if that's what the friends want" list, except for one thing.

As noted above, this building has been here for years, and was formerly a somewhat notorious roadhouse. This morning I noticed that my pants, shirt, sweater, and winter overcoat smelled like decades of beer, cigarette smoke, and fry oil. I think they'd have to not only raze the building but get some soil and groundwater remediation done to get rid of that smell. yeesh.

ps fyi for those who like the pub scene, the band was playing mostly 70s pop tunes and not many of the Irish pub standards.

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I don't understand what happened to the Irish Inn. When the new owners took over a few years ago, it was GREAT. We live only a mile away and we started going there faithfully, though we would only sit outside on the deck in nice weather, or in the pub in winter. The dining rooms look like something out of a nursing home, I'm sorry. Anway, the pub fare in particular was really spectacular. They honestly had the best cheeseburger and shepherd's pie in the area.

Then suddenly, things got worse little by little... one day the fries were soggy, another day the cheeseburger was dry, then the fish in the fish and chips was overcooked and the batter was soggy. Obviously their very first chef left, and they've never been the same since. Now we only go for a Guiness if we're driving by. They even used to have a great cocktail menu... now, don't even bother.

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Per Bethesda Magazine, the owners of the Irish Inn are going to be trying a similar concept at the Cabin John Shopping Center in Potomac. Per the Facebook page for Benny's (which it looks like never got a thread or a mention in the dining guide - and no one was missing all that much), the new spot may be called "LAHINCH".

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Having been fortunate enough to spend some time in Ireland a few times over the last few years, I have an appreciation for the fact that the pubs there can often have a more international menu, and not just have Shepherd's pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash. In that spirit: absolutely nothing wrong with our dinner here last night. The faux scotch egg was a good start, and my cajun pasta was flavorful and just fine. My wife's shepherd's pie came with a gorgeous side salad. The star of the evening, though, was my son's macaroni and cheese, a really generous bowl of cheesy goodness that my wife and me had a difficult time not over-sampling. A few good pours of Guinness made the night.

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