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The Not-Very-Irish Irish Pub

The Not-Very-Irish Irish Pub
Photo by Todd Buchanan

I have to admit, the idea of reviewing the newest suburban Irish pub didn’t exactly have me doing a jig. There’s only so much you can write about Guinness and corned beef. I certainly didn’t expect to be telling you about a chef who was hand-delivering amuse-bouche to diners at McCormick’s Pub & Restaurant in downtown Wayzata.

Typically with an Irish pub, the owner gets the attention (think Kieran Folliard, founder of the Twin Cities’ largest pub empire). While Tim McCormick was certainly working the room, the young chef, Zach Schugel, was also making a name for himself with some very delicious, thoughtful dishes.

If you’re looking for conventional Irish pub fare, you’re not going to find it here. And that’s good news.

Some traditional dishes remain, like the fish and chips, featuring a perfectly flaky, beer-battered piece of cod. The shepherd’s pie was even better: instead of the usual bland pile of meat and potatoes, McCormick intensifies the flavor of the beef with a red-wine braise and adds a zip of horseradish. And the burger, which is topped with Guinness-braised beef, a thick slice of crisp pancetta, melted cheddar, and a Dijon-thyme aioli, is truly top tier.

But if you want to venture off the island, you’ll also be nicely rewarded. A decidedly non-Irish soft-shell crab was presented in a wine glass with a refreshing cucumber consommé. Roasted mushrooms and crispy shallots lent a pleasant, earthy note to steak tartare. Though the chicken breast had high ambitions—served with a rich tomato jam and a delicious side of spicy spinach soufflé and braised leeks—the meat was slightly dry.

Surprisingly, my one real complaint about McCormick’s is the beer list: with only seven beers on tap, Guinness and Smithwick’s were the only Irish representatives. But chef Schugel’s unexpected amuse-bouche more than made up for the paltry pint selection. One delightful bite of shrimp ceviche on a tortilla chip let me know that McCormick’s isn’t a traditional Irish pub—but it is one with real luck.

McCormick’s Pub & Restaurant, 331 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata, 952-767-2417, mccormickswayzata.com

Jason Derusha is a reporter for WCCO-TV.

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