Irish Hello

Irish Hello

As far as I’m concerned, any place with meat loaf on the menu is worth a look. Institutional investment in a meal as simple and satisfying as a good, hand-formed block of baked beef bespeaks the kind of joint that might just invest in me.

Tommy Sullivan’s in Branford (map) serves a slice about the size and shape of a 10.5 insole. And at 15 bucks, with gravy on top and a healthy dollop of mashed potatoes on the side, it’s worth every penny.

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The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Decent Irish pubs are a dime a dozen, good ones scarce as hen’s teeth. Seals and toucans reminding me that’s it’s a “lovely day for a Guinness” are fine, but I need more than etched mirrors and burnished wood to restrain an eyeroll when my friend says ‘sláinte’ instead of ‘cheers.’ Not to say that Tommy Sullivan’s doesn’t indulge some of those Amer-Irish pub cliches, but they’re easily forgiven and forgotten once you settle in for a meal.

The prime rib special on Saturday afternoon sounded appealing, but my extended family stuck to the core menu. In addition to a pair of sizable slices of loaf, we ordered fish ’n’ chips, a pastrami reuben, beef stew, wings and a salad. Everything was wholesome and hearty. The pastrami was beautifully sliced, and the stew thoroughly pleased the lowing father and son across the table from me. The fish was well-battered, and those ‘chips’ were the best fries I’ve had in a while. No surprises on tap, but a Guinness followed by a Harp paired well with everything we tried. The shiplap ceiling and carved back bar offered inviting textures that made us want to stick around awhile. And if we’d gotten the table in front of the fireplace (forgiven that it’s gas), we might have closed the place down.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, we inquired about upcoming festivities. Our server let us know it’ll be shoulder-to-shoulder on Parade Day and the actual holiday five days later. Maybe she could tell I’m not much of a ‘joiner,’ or perhaps she doesn’t want to add to the headache, so she recommended dropping by during the days between for whiskey events and live music.

Whether you want to beat the crowd or meet it, this is Irish pub season, folks, and you wouldn’t want to waste it

Written by Chris Renton. Image 1, featuring Tommy and daughter Maeve Sullivan behind the bar, photographed by Dan Mims. Images 2 and 3 photographed by Chris Renton.

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