When Whitney Houston said "Crack is whack," she wasn't talking about the craic ("crack") at O'Connor's. (P.S., "craic" is Celtic for super-fun party times.) O'Connor's is where the craic is!
O'Connor's Public House in Rochester is the kind of place you wish all Irish pubs would be: warm, inviting, comfortable, friendly, full of outstanding food and beer: in other words, bloody brilliant.
There's a reason O'Connor's feels so much like an authentic Irish pub, even if you've never been to Ireland to make the comparison. Everything in the bar was built or salvaged in the U.K. then shipped over; the pub itself is a faithful recreation of an actual Irish pub. When people talk about whether or not a place is "authentic," just know that this place is the real deal.
At O'Connor's there is most certainly great drinking to be had, but don't miss the food. Executive Chef Michael Keys puts so much love into each dish you can actually taste it. You can taste the love. When you ask him what his key ingredient is – it's love. Also maybe butter. But definitely love. And the luck (or at least good taste) of the Irish!
The menu is as large as an Irishman's appetite and features a wide range of hearty items, from traditional Irish dishes to Irish-inspired rib-sticking American comfort food. Everything here is made in-house from scratch. (And with love.) You'll need a good basecoat for all the beer you're going to be drinking anyway.
Start out with the traditional bangers and mash, Irish sausages and champ mashed potatoes (green onions in mashed potatoes with milk and LOTS of butter – at least Mike's have lots of butter anyway, and they're all the better for it) served with two different kinds of mustard dipping sauces – one whole grain and the other a sauce of caramel-thick consistency that packs a brief burst of mustardy heat. Then perhaps move on to the smoked salmon, beautiful rosettes of pink salmon served with capers, chopped onions and a zingy horseradish sauce on toast points.
This is just the beginning. There's potato leek soup, Irish chili and French onion soup au gratin to warm your cockles (eat with beer) and then on to the next round of platters: Guinness stew. Chicken pot pie. Shepherd's pie. Or how about some Irish bacon and cabbage? This "bacon" is tender cured pork loin served with cabbage, champ mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, asparagus spears and a creamy parsley sauce. Or try one of their signature "boxties," a lightly-seasoned potato pancake stuffed with various ingredients and cooked on a griddle (a dish common to rural parts of Ireland). It pretty much doesn't get any more Irish than the corned beef and cabbage boxty, or really just try anything with their juicy chunks of their house-made slow-cooked corned beef brisket cooked up the color of an angry Irishman's face after a few too many pints. And the golden, crispy, flaky, juicy fish and chips will guarantee those Irish eyes are smiling.
Much like you would expect out of a proper Irish pub, the beer and whiskey selection is top-notch, made even more top-notch by the wide selection of Michigan craft beers (from Kuhnhenn, Arcadia, Rochester Mills, even Bell's Hopslam) and other popular craft labels (like New Belgium and Lagunitas) on draft. They also have a respectable selection of classic craft cocktails for those who like their spirits extra spirited, or maybe those who are gluten-free?
Bottom line, this place is awesome and should make everyone want to move to Rochester. If you go anywhere else this St. Patrick's Day, your craic is whack. | RDW