Poag Mahone’s Carvery and Ale House is an old style Chicago saloon that brings you back to the turn of the century with tin ceilings, tile floors, and a huge 28 foot oak bar. Located in the atrium of a Loop highrise, Poag's also has an entry from the street. Dark and loud, it's a fun place to hang with friends or have a casual meal, but not great for food photography. The restaurant features American cuisine, with an emphasis on quality (100% American grass fed beef and more). A full bar features “Poag’s Honest Pour” of favorite whiskeys along with Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s Irish Ale and other top imported and domestic beers on tap and in bottles. A minimal wine list shows up on the website, but several more have been added in-house, making it a decent selection (and I loved the presentation, with the list wrapped around an empty wine bottle). We were excited to visit the restaurant at their invitation and check out what they had to offer.
After ordering our first glasses of wine, Treana Marsanne/Viognier Blend from Paso Robles (flowery, perfumy, wonderful acidic yet balanced, maybe the perfect summer wine) and the Troublemaker Syrah Blend from Paso Robles (dark and hearty, plummy), we got down to the food.
Starter choices are pretty minimal, so we tried two we thought we'd like, the Wisconsin Fried Cheese Curds (with chipotle ranch dipping sauce) and Deviled Eggs in a Nest, both outstanding. It was hard not to eat everything, but we knew there was more to come. We added a salad course, trying the Asian Noodle Salad (boston lettuce, matchstick carrots, cucumber, cilantro, zesty peanut sauce) and the Maple Curry Chicken Salad (apples, golden raisins, almonds, yellow curry dressing, green winter salad). Both were really good, to the point where we didn't finish them, but wrapped them up to go home.
Poag Mahone's is known for burgers, so burgers is what we ate. Laima went with the Chicago Stockyards Burger with grilled onions, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and 1000 Island Dressing, pronouncing it very tasty. Her side of sweet potato fries was really good as well. My Poag’s Veggie Burger (homemade with portabella mushrooms, lentils, quinoa and flax seed, topped with roasted vegetables and hummus) was one of the best I've tried in a restaurant, though a bit soft texture-wise. Crinkle cut fries on the side were nice and crispy. Poag's serves their burgers on pretzel rolls, probably my favorite bread for this type of sandwich (and many others). Eating only half to save room for dessert, we couldn't leave these behind and wrapped them to go.
With the burgers came two more glasses of wine, the Karl Erbes Riesling (VERY sweet, which I enjoyed with my veggie burger, but leaning towards a dessert wine for most others, I would suspect) and the Seghesio Zinfandel, another full-bodied option that was good with the food and on its own.
Hard to believe we had room for dessert, but since everything else had been so yummy we just had to try. A half serving of the Irish Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce (the full serving must be for four people!) and the Bailey’s Irish Creme Brulee both were worth ordering, though both seemed pretty high in alcohol, so might not be appropriate for the kids. No Irish Coffee for us, as we had to still drive home to the suburbs.
Our waitress was attentive, knowledgeable, offered suggestions, and was ably supported by other wait staff. The food was good or better, and the ambiance appealing. If you are downtown and are looking for a casual meal, Poag's is a solid choice. Good option for after hours, with a Late-Night menu (until 11:00) serving those who are in the Loop after most have gone home.
More information on Poag Mahone's website, Facebook, and Twitter.
(Disclaimer: This meal was comped for review purposes. Some information was taken from the company website, but all opinions are my own.)
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