Walking into Doc Magilligan’s, in Niagara Falls, Ont., is like stepping into a convivial neighbourhood pub in Ireland.
That’s no accident, since the décor was shipped over from the Emerald Isle. Indeed, the entire bar, back bar wall and all woodwork was custom designed and milled in Ireland, and all the decorative bric-a-brac was sourced from shuttered Irish pubs. There’s even a pressed tin ceiling in the large main room, and even the outside façade was created in Ireland. Doc Magilligan’s opened in December, 2014, but the well-appointed room feels like it’s been around forever.
The menu, too, reflects an Irish pub sensibility mixed with a North American influence.
On a decidedly (North) American theme is the chicken wing chowder. It’s wonderfully hearty, and loaded with chunks of chicken, celery, potato and carrot.
Salads, including a classic Caesar; beet and arugula with candied walnuts, goat cheese and cranberries; and apple cheddar, are enormously generous and mounded with fresh greens.
Taste of Ireland combo platter.
I opt for the Taste of Ireland combo platter: pieces of tender chicken bathed in fragrant Madras curry, served on rice; shepherd’s pie built on a full-flavoured combo of ground beef and lamb jazzed with diced veg; and hearty steak and mushroom pie topped with a round of puff pastry and anchored by rich, fragrant gravy. Garnished the platter are toasted slices of Irish soda bread.
We sample boxty, a traditional Irish pancake made from mashed and shredded potatoes, here fashioned into three thin pancakes topped with pan-sauteed haddock, julienned beets, slaw, caper tartar sauce and cilantro. Voila — Irish-style tacos.
Mom’s Roast Chicken brings moist and tasty bird accessorized with mashed potatoes, seasonal veg and rich gravy.
New York striploin brings 10 ounces of perfectly medium rare beef, tender and full of flavour. At $25.99, it’s terrific value.
Desserts hit the sweet spot. There’s a sundae built on vanilla ice cream and brownies, served in a mason jar; sweetish sticky toffee pudding; and cheesecake constructed from a flourless brownie base, chocolate and peanut butter.
Group buyouts will be considered for the entire restaurant, which seats 225 people inside and another 45 on the patio. The fireplace room seats 125 and can be used as its own private space.
Add-on features for corporate parties include the ‘learn to pour Guinness’ station, Irish dancers and Celtic fiddler outside welcoming guests.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.