Unasked Review: Daniel O’Connell’s


Last Friday, me and the missus decided to dine in Old Town. We were craving Irish food; after our jaunt up in Maine a few weeks back and hitting several New England pubs we were feeling nostalgic for our Ireland walkabout back in 2005 and wanted to try getting back to that setting. Yes, yes, this is Virginia after all, but no harm in trying, right?

I’d read some reviews on O’Connell’s a while back and since it boasted itself as “a modern Irish restaurant in an ancient Irish setting” (from their website), we decided to give it a whirl.

We arrived right at 5 p.m., before the dinner crush on a typical spring weekend evening on King Street. After doing a quick check of the menu out front, we followed the pleasant and cheery hostess upstairs to the third floor. (As an aside, I love it when restaurants post their menus out front – saves me a heap of time of going in, scanning the menu and then bailing because I can’t find anything on it that waters my mouth.)

Seated in a corner along the long banister “corridor” connecting two of the older bars upstairs, the busboy was prompt in getting us water. So we dove into the menu and after some discussion, decided what to eat.

And then waited for our server.

And waited.

And waited.

We saw plenty of busboy activity at the wait station opposite us. I even heard one of the ‘busgirls’ ask if any of them knew who was helping us. She said it quietly and shrugged in our direction; considering we were the only table seated up there, it was kind of obvious we were the subject of inquiry.

Still we waited.

And then my darling wife, after 15 minutes of chit-chat and water-drinking, looked at me and asked if we should just leave since we were clearly forgotten. Of course, I smiled and said no; “I think I just found the restaurant for my next unasked review.”


I hesitated for a moment as a server came up the stairs….and passed us. Then I headed for the nearest bar. Spotting a clearly-dressed manager-type, I calmly asked if a 15 minute wait for a server was common and if this was typical to service. (I mean, it might be – I just need to know so I can adjust my annoyance meter.) He apologized and set out to make it right.

And so he did! We had a server within two minutes. (Unfortunately, I forgot to catch her name.) The manager even stopped by to check on our disposition and even comped our starters, which he didn’t need to do.

After that little hiccup at the start, dinner was fabulous.

I had a wonderful warm spinach salad – just the right plate portion – followed up with an incredibly tasty shepherd’s pie. It was comperable to the shepherd’s pies I’d thoroughly enjoyed on our Irish trip. My wife had a crisp house salad followed by a plate of chicken tenders, which were incredibly tasty, surprisingly so.

Dessert was average – then again, we’ve become dessert snobs and expect a lot, so what didn’t work for us may work for others. The apple crisp pie was a bit soggy and my raspberry creme brulee a tad runny, but we’ve definitely had worse elsewhere. The coffee, however, was excellent.

So despite the false start, O’Connell’s more than made up for it with some excellent – and moderately priced – pub fare, along with some seriously excellent service (once they knew we existed). The setting is just gorgeous as well and the atmosphere quite pleasant. Hopefully when we return, we’ll be able to sit on the second-floor patio.

Daniel O’Connell’s can be found at 112 King St. Phone is 703.739.1124, but if you arrive before 6 p.m. there shouldn’t be much of a wait.

2 Comments so far

  1. mik (kimberley) on June 5th, 2008 @ 10:58 am

    I sadly never made it to O’Connell’s whilst living in the area, having settled on Ireland’s Four Courts and deciding I had pretty much found my Irish bar of choice (personally, I still blame Tom for that). Which Irish bars (if any) did you check out in Maine? Brian Boru is always good if you’re ever in Portland. $2 Guinness and live Irish music on Sunday afternoons.

  2. connell (pingback) on June 8th, 2008 @ 1:13 am

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