Mini Reviews of Chicago Area Restaurants Coming Soon!

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Aug 102011

Last week I “Unplugged” and spent some much needed vacation time in Chicago.  While the majority of my time was centered around family, we did get to explore the city and try many restaurants in the area.

Stay tuned for my Chicago mini reviews coming soon!

Chicago skyline

Photo by Snoopoz

Oct 272010

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by the restaurant. All opinions are my own.

Cuisine: American, Irish, Pub Grub, Fish & Seafood, Steaks
Restaurant Features: Bar, Flat Screen TVs, Happy Hour, Hotel, Kids Menu, Indoor Patio, On-Site Parking (pay-lot at Embassy Suites)
Location: St Paul (Downtown/ Lowertown)
Address: 175 10th St E  St. Paul, MN 55101 651-224-5111  (Within Embassy Suites)
Hours: 7 Days 11am-11pm
Links: Cork’s Irish Pub Website Cork’s Pub Facebook Page *Google Map

Atmosphere: Located within the Embassy Suites in downtown St Paul, Cork’s Irish pub is a fun place to enjoy a good meal or drink.  As the name suggests, the atmosphere is reminiscent of the pubs in Ireland  with wooden floors, a big wooden bar, and several wooden pub tables.  The theme is carried out through the traditional Irish fare, “pub grub”,  as well as a plethora of beers, scotches and whiskeys.  There are also multiple flat screen TVs hung throughout the restaurant, giving it the slight feel of a sports pub as well.

Cork’s also has a patio area that looks out into the indoor courtyard of the Embassy Suites, where you can see tropical waterfall gardens such as these.  Who says you ned to go south to feel a touch of the tropics!?

Menu: Appetizers at Cork’s include Scotch Eggs, Chicken Wings (Hot or BBQ), Fresh Chips (with cheese, bacon and green onion), Onion Rings, Chicken Fingers, Crab & Artichoke Dip, Fried Goodness Sampler, Crudite Platter (fresh veggies, olives, pita bread and hummus), 7 Layer Dip, Jack & Blue Sticks (blend of cheese and buffalo sauce battered and fried), and Cod Chippers.

Salad options are The Irishman (fingerling potatoes and corned beef on romaine with Guinness vinaigrette), Caesar, Grilled Salmon, Chicken Cobb, Bourbon Steak, and Country Chicken Salad.

Cork’s Sandwiches and Burgers include Club House, Hot Pastrami on Rye, Petite Steak Burgers, Build-A-Burger or Chicken Sandwich, The Downtowner (ham and cheddar on sourdough), Blarney Stone (corned beef, roast beef, and pastrami with swiss, cheddar and sauerkraut), Chicago Style Roast Beef, Asian Pork Burger with Peanut Sauce, Walleye, and Cranberry Turkey (turkey, swiss and cranberry mayo).

Cork’s also has Supreme Pizza, Irish Potato Pizza, and Build-Your-Own Pizza.

Entrees at Cork’s include 14 oz Sterling Silver New York Strip, Shepherd’s Pie, Pasta Vodka, Panko Walleye,  Fish N Chips, Sea Scallops with Corned Beef and Cabbage, Fettuccine Alfredo, Grilled Walleye, Grilled Salmon, Drunken Broil (grilled steak served with a splash of whiskey and au jus), Potato Crusted Chicken, Chicken Marsala, and Bangers N Mac (penne in creamy cheese sauce with grilled lamb sausage).

Kids Menu items include Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Fingers, Cheese Pizza, Macaroni and Cheese, and Fettuccine Alfredo.

The heavenly dessert options are seasonal and this season include Carrot Cake, Creme Brulee, Pumpkin Mousse Torte, Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae (all year), and Pear and Dried Cherry Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream.

Click here to see the large selection of Drinks at Cork’s Irish Pub

Price guide: Appetizers $8-10  Salads $8-15  Sandwiches $10-13  Entrees $12-32  Desserts $5-7

Happy Hour:

  • Monday-Friday  4-6pm
  • Half Price Appetizers, Rails, Calls, Martinis and Specialty Drinks
  • $3 House Wine
  • $2 Standard Bottles and Taps
  • $3 Premium Bottles and Taps
Weekly Specials:
Monday 1/2 off Martinis all day
Tuesday- Free BINGO 8pm
Wednesday- Free Trivia 8pm
Thursday- 1/2 off Bottles of Wine  Live Music 7pm
Friday – Two 12 oz Sterling Silver Prime Rib Specials and a bottle of house winefor only $50. Hendricks and Tonic $4, All Day
Saturday- Silver Butter Knife Prime Rib served with soup or salad, veggie, potato, and glass of wine
What we ordered: My companion and I started with an order of Scotch Eggs, a must-order item for me if I ever see it on a menu.  I was pleased to see six halves of the delectable sausage-wrapped hard boiled eggs in the order, atop a bed of baby greens and sweet cherry tomatoes.  These eggs were some of the most delicious I have had to date!  The thin layer of sausage wrapped around the eggs was slightly spicy and full of flavor and the deep fried bread crumb batter added the perfect crunch to the layers of texture.  There were two spicy mustard sauces served with it for dipping.  I could probably eat these for breakfast several times a week!

Our entrees both came with choice of soup or salad. One of the daily soups included Buffalo Chicken, so that is what I tried.  This was a hearty, spicy, creamy and chunky blend of chicken, celery, carrot, corn, and peppers.  I liked it very much, it is the kind of spicy soup that is perfect for a cold day!

My companion tried the other soup of the day, the Steak Ranchero.  Every bite if this was heavenly! It was very similar to chili, but with more vegetables than just beans and several bites of tender beef.  Savory and delicious.

Our meals also came with French Bread, which was light and soft on the inside and slightly crusty on the outside.  I loved it even more when dipped in the Buffalo Chicken Soup ;)

There were many items that sounded wonderful (mix of Irish fare, pub grub and American) but the Scallops with Corned Beef and Cabbage sounded like a unique and winning combo.  At the base of this dish was the corned beef and cabbage (which on its own would be a hearty meal), then topped with at least a half dozen large, tender, seared sea scallops.  When I say tender, I actually mean melt-in-your-mouth.  These scallops were so good! In the center of the dish was a large serving of cooked, mashed lentils.  I haven’t had much experience eating lentils but they are similar to a bean or a pea in both texture and taste, and slightly earthy.  The texture of the mashed lentils was soft yet still firm enough to stay in a scoop.  A nice change of pace for a side dish! This meal was also served with a slice of fresh buttered rye toast.

My companion ordered the Prime Rib Saturday Special, a 12 oz. Silver Butterknife Steak served with green beans, mashed potatoes, soup, and glass of wine for $27.  I tried several bites of this beef  and it was delicious! Although cooked slightly more than preferred, this cut of beef was extremely tender and flavorful.  The rind on the outside held all the flavor of the seasonings, each bite doing a little dance in my mouth.  The Silver Butter Knife steaks that Cork’s serves are the same as the steaks served at the best steak houses in town, including Wooley’s and Murray’s.

I was almost too full to try dessert but this Pumpkin Mousse Torte was the perfect Autumn treat.  The cake was light and the pumpkin mousse was even lighter, and only slightly sweet. It had just a subtle taste of pumpkin but when paired with the sweet-tart cranberry chutney that accompanied it, it was like a beautiful duet of fall flavors. The best part of this dessert was its lightness, which may be a complete opposite of the richness of a chocolate cake.  Excellent!

Service: We had excellent service at Cork’s Irish Pub at the Embassy Suites in St Paul.  Our server was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu and despite my need to make my visit under an hour, the service never felt rushed.  Our food was spaced just right for each course, drinks were kept filled, and we left very satisfied.

Overall Impression: Cork’s Irish Pub is a hidden gem in Lowertown St Paul, located within the Embassy Suites which is just a few blocks from other popular area hang-outs.  Happy Hour is a great deal with nearly all appetizers and drinks at half price, plus the crew at Cork’s especially loves to take care of the downtown working crowd.  Both the food and the service stand out amongst other establishments in the area. I’ll meet ya there after work sometime ;)

Cork's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon