Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Brian O'Neill's Traditional Irish Pub

Brian O'Neill's is a little Irish Pub that has found its home in Houston, TX right next to the prestigious Rice University. It has great atmosphere and good food. It is a place to meet up with friends once a week or a place to have bigger gatherings. I first discovered Brian O'Neil's my last year at Rice University. I was forced to move off campus and my good friend and roommate at the time came with me. Since we were living off campus and had to depend on ourselves for food, we decided to explore the eateries in the Rice Village, a shopping and retail center close to Rice. One night we just happened to stumble upon Brian O's, as we now lovingly call it. That fateful day, we became life long patrons.

Brian O's may be easy to miss if you are not looking. It is wedged at the bottom of what seems to be an office building with two parking lots as book ends. Well, you might miss it, except for all the people who are out in the patio. In front of the Pub's facade is a sunken patio with plenty of tables and space. There is also a window to the bar where one can order drinks at his leisure.

Once inside you have the bar to your right, tables in front of you, a secluded room ahead next to the kitchen door and the end of the bar. There is also a little lounge type area with comfy couches and a big TV. Next to that area is the Tea Merchant's room. You can close the doors for a private function or just get away from the crowds. In the back left corner is a little alcove with a round table. This little sanctuary is where my friends and I like to meet every Wednesday. I will get into why Wednesday later.

Brian O's has been voted the best place to drink a Guinness at least twice by the Houston Press. And while that is a good reason to go, the food also has to be a large draw. The burgers are fantastic. The steaks are decent and the shepherd's pie is nothing to laugh at. Ah, but our main draw are the burgers. You see, Brian O's is one of those places that has a daily special. And Wednesday just happens to be the Big Ass Beer and Half Price Burger night. Now do you see the appeal of Brian O's on a Wednesday? So yeah, that is our weekly meeting place. This is how we keep up, talk about our jobs, ourselves and future social plans. The prefect place for meeting to talk about this, that, and everything else.

But on to the food. What kind of cooking blog would this be if I did not talk about the food? First, let's mention the burgers themselves. They are the stars of the show. And you have a nice selection too. There is the Smoky Backyard BBQ burger. This is my personal favorite. It is a half pound beef patty cooked to order topped with two large strips of crispy bacon, a smoky barbecue sauce and cheddar cheese. Next is the Swiss Alpine Burger. This one, if you have not guessed already, involves the same beef patty only now it is topped with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese. Yum. If you don't like those then try the Black and Bleu Burger. This one has two crispy bacon strips and crumbled blue cheese. Don't like blue cheese. The the last of the burgers on this beef parade is the Ranchero Burger. This one involves pico de gallo, white cheddar cheese and two slices of avocado. So you still have not found a burger you like, well then make your own damnit. Yes, you can create your own burger with whatever you feel like putting on it. Nothing says yummy like beef in the tummy.

So, now that we have covered the main thrust of the plate, lets explore the sides. First of all, all burgers come with a lettuce leaf, tomato and onion slice, and pickle wedge. You do have the option of getting fries, chips, fruit (for the calorie conscious), cole slaw or soup. If you choose the soup, then you get your choice of a cup of chicken tortilla, French onion, or baked potato. All choices of the soup are quite good. Although I can't decide if I like the chicken tortilla or the baked potato better. If you order the fries, you get the typical shoestring fried potatoes. If you order the chips, you get the thickly cut steak fries. Both are good and have their pros and cons. I personally like the chips better.

The other half of the meal is the big ass beer. For $8 you can own your very own 23oz. Brian O's pilsner glass, with free beer. Well, only that first beer is free. After that you have to pay to get refills. But on the plus side you get cheaper refills than if you had bought a normal draft. And you get more. That is a great benefit of the glass.

I have only touched a small portion of what great culinary delights this nifty little Irish Pub holds. But I do hope it has whetted your appetite for this place. So if you ever find yourself in Houston, TX, do yourself a favor and visit Brian O'Neil's Irish Pub.

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