Home / Dining Out / Mulligans Irish Pub Strikes the Right Balance
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mulligans Irish Pub Strikes the Right Balance

Friendly pub with tasty food in Franklin

Google+ Pinterest Print
The Irish pub format—a bar with lots of shamrock decorations and a menu featuring a few Irish specialties—has become increasingly popular worldwide. I have visited Irish pubs in places as varied as Thailand, Peru and Bulgaria. Last summer another such pub, Mulligans, opened in the southern reaches of the Milwaukee area, and it became an instant success.

Mulligans is located on 27th Street in a section of Franklin with small roadside motels, a vestige of the days before Interstate 94. The attractive interior includes woodwork in the main dining area, which offers private booths along the window. Smokers will be directed to the bar area, which contains even more windows than the dining room. The ceilings are high enough that cigarette smoke is not a nuisance. With numerous flat-screen TVs, this also doubles as a sports bar.

A pint of Guinness ($5) heads the appetizers. The other options tend to be less than Irish, with riblets, quesadillas, spinach artichoke dip and chicken wings. At least the nachos offer a corned beef option. You’ll also find leprechaun sliders ($5.95), a serving of four mini-burgers with a choice of cheese (including a mild Irish cheddar). The burgers arrive well done, but the meat remains moist enough. In a smart move, lettuce, tomato and pickle chips arrive on the side.

The remainder of the menu includes sandwiches, pizzas and entrees. The entrees are split into two groups—main courses and Irish specialties—and include a choice of soup or salad. The above-average house salad comes with leaf lettuce, grape tomato and the usual list of sliced onion, cucumber, carrot and radish. The rye croutons are good. The dressings run from tasty balsamic vinaigrette to very ordinary blue cheese to pleasant honey mustard. The soups are competent. A daily special might be creamy New England clam chowder or Reuben soup, which is basically a vegetable soup glorified with corned beef. There is also a decent French onion soup topped with a round of bread and melted cheese—it’s just salty enough.

The main courses include items like barbecue ribs, rotisserie chicken and New York strip steak, but we are here to try the Irish specialties.

Corned beef & cabbage ($10.95), the scourge of Irish pub purists (since it rarely is found in Ireland), is a heaping serving. Thick slices of beef are served over colcannon mashed potatoes and topped with strips of cabbage. The corned beef has a fine flavor and is perfectly trimmed; the potatoes have just a few hints of their red skins; and the cabbage is cooked to its last vestige of crispness. Would that be al dente? The plate also includes grilled vegetables with strips of zucchini, yellow squash, sweet red pepper and spears of fresh asparagus. Minus the meat, this would make a fine vegetarian meal.

Irish lamb stew ($10.95) is another big serving. Large pieces of braised shank are well trimmed and cooked to a compelling tenderness. The stew is fleshed out with carrot, onion, potato and parsnip. The carrots are at their prime and the parsnips a revelation with their sweet, delicate flavor, though the potatoes seem a hint underdone. The stew is thickened with stock. At one visit it seemed too beefy, detracting from the flavor of the lamb; at another it was more subtle and worked better.

This is the time of year for fish & chips ($9.95), and it is easy to see why this choice is so popular here. The pieces of haddock come in a thin, feathery, Harp beer batter so flavorful that the tartar sauce can be skipped entirely. Friday offers additional options of lake perch, bluegill and walleye—breaded or battered.

Arrive Friday evening for the seafood special of the day. This is where the chef shows true creativity. Contrast fish & chips with items like citrus-marinated Chilean sea bass, barbecue Asian shrimp with lo mein, and diver sea scallops with a wild mushroom risotto—no wonder there is a wait for tables on Friday evenings.

Mulligans is a congenial place at all times. Of the local Irish pubs, Mulligans prepares the Irish basics as well as anybody, especially the corned beef. This is the type of pub that would be welcome in any neighborhood. n

Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill

8933 S. 27th St., Franklin

(414) 304-0300

$-$$

Credit Cards: All Major

Smoking: Yes

Handicap Access: Yes