It's been a while since I've been to Mulligan's Gardenside Café, but with new owners at the restaurant, which features Irish fare, and St. Patrick's Day next week, it was time for another visit.
Despite the change in ownership — Larry and Leann Cornett are now in charge — nothing has really changed at this eatery in the Gardenside neighborhood. The former gas station isn't the prettiest restaurant in the world, but it is one of the friendliest. And the food is good.
Mulligan's offers Irish cuisine, but it also has a full menu of usual fare, including soups, salads, and entrees of beef, chicken and seafood. It also serves nightly specials. The night of one of my visits, it was meatloaf and mashed potatoes, and flat-iron steak (while I was waiting for my dinner companion to arrive, a woman at the next table told me to get it, because "it's really good").
Despite the suggestion, we wanted Mulligan's Irish fare, some of the heaviest and richest food on earth. You can't eat this food every day.
Our dinner started with yeast rolls and biscuits — hot, hot, hot — and real butter. Mulligan's uses copious amounts of butter for most of its Irish food.
We ordered one non-Irish appetizer, stuffed mushroom caps ($6.95), a favorite of my dinner companion. The huge caps were stuffed with shredded chicken, Cheddar cheese, herbs and spices, then broiled. With a spike of cayenne, they were wonderful and a bit spicy. But my friend thought them too spicy. If you like them hot, you'll love them. If you don't, the kitchen will leave the cayenne off, according to our server.
Among the entrees we tried was the Dublin potato hot pot ($8.95), a popular choice, our server said. A shallow gratin dish was overflowing with a mix of buttermilk-mashed potatoes, bacon, green onion, Cheddar cheese and slices of chicken. Heavy as lead, the dish resembled a loaded baked potato that had been mashed. Yummy.
We also sampled cabbage-and-bacon-stuffed chicken ($12.95). They should called it cabbage-and-bacon- smothered chicken. A very moist chicken breast (the menu says it doesn't need a sauce) was covered with coarsely chopped cabbage that had been braised with garlic and bacon. It came with a side of those buttermilk-mashed potatoes. We were packin' on the pounds.
I also had to try boxty ($7.95), one of my favorites from long-ago visits to Mulligan's. They're Irish potato pancakes in which mashed potatoes are mixed with a bit of flour, bacon and green onion, formed into patties and fried. Mulligan's served us two big boxty in a rich Mornay sauce. It was basically potatoes — again, made with buttermilk — and gravy.
The boxty would have been enough for dinner, but we needed some greens with our starch. We went for the most Irish of side dishes, colcannon ($7.95). Coarsely chopped cabbage had been braised with garlic and leeks, then mixed with more buttermilk-mashed potatoes.
We couldn't finish any of the huge dishes, certainly not because they were bad, but because it was overload.
Our server offered us blackberry cobbler for dessert, but we declined.
We paid the $57.86 tab — which included two Irish beers and a soft drink — and then, needless to say, rolled to our vehicles.