Review: Doherty's East Avenue Irish Pub

Beer, burgers, ball games, and much more
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  February 9, 2011

Doherty's East Ave Irish Pub is an old-fashioned gem: an informal eatery where you can chow down on wonderful food over a brew or a few: there are 157 on tap and in bottles, at last count.

The regulars I know are an adamantly loyal lot. My friend Richard Walton, for example, calls the place "my Cheers," along with other fans from the nearby Stone Soup Coffeehouse. Generous portions and the best burgers and fish and chips around, Richard insists. I do remember my wife appreciating that the fillets were simply dredged in flour rather than thickly battered.

Doherty's East Avenue Irish Pub | 401.725.1800 | 342 East Ave, Pawtucket | Mon-Fri, 11 am-Midnight; Sat-Sun, 9 am-Midnight | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Accessible

The spot did business as the East Avenue Café for a few decades; in 2006, Jack Doherty and Jim and Elizabeth Sullivan took over and began turning it into a beer mecca. A collection of beer trays hang proudly like family photos, and there's an astounding array of brews: 82 drafts as of this week, and 75 in bottles. And not just IPAs. There are lagers, wheat beers, and dark beers — from dunkel to bock — plus hard ciders and numerous fruit and fusion blends, such as a "Banana Split," with Young's Double Chocolate and Wells Banana Bread beer.

Doherty's also qualifies as a sports bar, with the usual framed photos as well as Irish hurling sticks and croquet memorabilia. TV screens everywhere you look, of course.

But don't forget, their reputation for food is up there with their reps for brews and vicariously bruising games. In the tradition of bar snacks being America's tapas, their appetizers are many and eclectic, from Chinese potstickers to mussels zuppa. In addition to what you'd expect, from calamari to mozzarella sticks, there are variations. As well as potato skins, there are "Irish skins," topped with corned beef and Swiss, Russian dressing on the side ($7.99 for five, $13.99 for 10).

Actually, what everybody here tends to start with is a complementary, self-serve cup of the soup-of-the-day that steamily beckons as you enter. The tradition harkens back to the original East Avenue Café fare. The day I came for lunch it was a tasty, if salty, chicken escarole, and there was plenty of meat still at the bottom even after many before me had fished around for goodies.

The chicken wings (10 for $8.99) are billed prominently, with four thermometers ranging from Buffalo through Inferno and Atomic to Nuclear. There are five other preparations, and while the sesame-garlic tempted, the orange-ginger won out. They were juicy, charcoal-grilled rather than fried, and both the citrus and the ginger snap came through the mild heat of a few red flecks.

The BBQ is popular here, in combo or solo, from ribs to steak tips to pulled pork braised with spices and Guiness. Many visitors never get past their 10 grill sandwiches, both burger and chicken breast, with a variety of preparations and toppings. Smoky, sweet mesquite sauce; Cordon Bleued with ham and Swiss; or even Rubenized with sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian ($8.79-$9.49). Don't worry, animal lovers, there's also a veggie burger and a half-dozen salads, including, as above, orange-ginger salmon ($13.99). Eighteen other sandwiches ($7.99-$10.99) range from tuna melt to Cuban.

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