Jack Doyle’s: In a League of Its Own
NEW YORK—Jack Doyle’s is full of surprises. First off, don’t let the Irish exterior fool you into thinking this is just another pub. The food at Jack Doyle’s puts it in a league of its own. The ante is upped even further with 36 beers on tap, 16 big screen TVs, and a beautiful large space, raising the standard for all other sports pubs in Manhattan.
Jack Doyle’s has only been open since last fall, in a location that was previously a fabric store. It is now a beautiful, sweeping two-story space. Patrons love the expansive feel and the friendly vibe.
There are a variety of seating options—from the long bar on the ground floor, to the mezzanine, where there is a smaller, more intimate bar, more conventional restaurant seating, and my favorite, stools and high tables overlooking the ground floor from way up high.
Irish bars are traditionally convivial places, down home comfortable (leaning toward the run down at some establishments), with the focus on conversation and drink, with food being more of an afterthought.
That’s why, by comparison, Jack Doyle’s menu is unexpected.
The Pear Salmon Salad, which was beautifully presented, with baby spinach, endives, roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and olives in a bright coral-colored raspberry champagne dressing, was equally enjoyable. Salmon is one of the most popular items, and I could definitely taste why. It was just right: offering a crispy bite on the outside, but giving way to tender, moist flakes inside—light, but perfectly seasoned. The endives and pears added classic true-and-tested flavor, and the goat cheese’s creamy texture complemented the fish very well.
Co-owner Brendan Donoghue revamped the menu with customer feedback in mind. Jack Doyle’s offers more options for the health-conscious lunch crowd, including an expanded selection of 16 salads—featuring ingredients such as butternut squash, heart of palms, toasted almonds, barley, and roasted red peppers.
The after work crowd goes for the many bar food options, from buffalo wings to chicken tenders, perfectly fried without a trace of greasiness.
The dinner menu embraces a variety of dishes and skews toward upscale dining in presentation and execution—but still on par with prices in the neighborhood. There is lobster fettuccine on the menu, as well as sea scallops—again, not your typical Irish fare—and the variety does cater to different tastes, which is always great for outings with friends.
The whole wheat pasta served with clams, cherry tomatoes in garlic white wine sauce was refreshingly flavorful. Despite this being a pasta dish, it was light: a nice balance of flavors between the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and the savoriness of the clams, all in a very subtle sauce. Here too, there’s a nod to good health with the whole grain pasta.
For the meat-and-potato lovers, the grilled Angus shell steak is perfect—it’s a big portion, served with asparagus and roasted potatoes in an lovely brandy peppercorn sauce.
The Longford Leader, a dish of sauteed chicken breast, was tender, served with a delightful fusion of flavors: sun-dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts, in a mustard cream sauce, with pillow-soft mashed potatoes and fine julienned vegetables.
The flavors are classic and the portions generous.
The chef uses a light hand on the sauces, which I appreciate, and everything is impeccably seasoned.
As I was eating, I realized that wherever you’re seated, you’re guaranteed a view of one of the 16 large-screen TVs. They’re by no means in your face, but suffice to say you won’t risk missing out on any of the sports action. Still this is all while enjoying civilized comforts with careful touches—white tablecloth, lit candles.
The prices are reasonable, and even a few dollars less than at comparable restaurants in the neighborhood.
“We’re never going to look to be greedy either … I know the customer appreciates that because they see it all the time … It’s nice to see that your bill isn’t going to be crazy, that you’re not going to get a scare at the end,” says Donoghue, who’s been known to buy customers a round of drinks every so often to thank them for coming back.
Donoghue knows a place of this magnitude could fall into being run like a machine, but the personal touch is well and alive here. The bartenders are friendly, and Donoghue likes to get to know his customers. If you enjoy excellent food in a beautiful, immaculate space where you can catch a game or two, Jack Doyle’s is just the spot you want to check out.
Jack Doyle’s Pub & Restaurant
240 W. 35th St.
Open 11 a.m.–4 a.m. every day
Weekly drinks specials ($5 drinks), happy hour 4 p.m.–7 p.m., late night happy hour midnight–4 a.m.