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Better Irish in the Burbs

Irish BreakfastAfter my lackluster experience at The Grafton Pub, I wasn’t too keen on trying the food at another Irish pub. But my soon-to-be-brother-in-law Slim McDinner assured me that the food at the Celtic Knot Pub in Evanston was worth sampling. Empanada Boy, Slim and I went there with Popcorn Princess, Drumstix and their baby Milkman who were visiting from Madison. We went late on a snowy evening, but the restaurant and bar were so filled with people that we still had at least a 20 minute wait to sit down. We sat at the bar (smoke free in Evanston) and enjoyed a Boddington’s or two while we waited.

Lamb StewThe food was definitely better than the Grafton, and the festively decorated, wood-paneled space, filled with happy, beer-drinking patrons made the meal seem even more authentic. I steered away from shepherd’s pie, this time deciding to revel in the glories of Irish meat products with the Full Monty Irish Breakfast (shown above). This dish comes with bangers (sausages), bacon, black and white pudding (sausage made by cooking blood and sausage made from pork meat, suet and oatmeal, respectively), eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and fried bread. This was a feast of delicious animal parts like only the Irish could do it. Slim also ordered well, selecting the rich, hearty lamb stew with rustic Irish brown bread.

DessertEmpanada Boy did a more scientific comparison between the Celtic Knot and the Grafton by ordering the fish and chips. The flaky fish came in an equally flaky shell with excellent fries and a mild curry for dipping. EB’s assessment: the fish and chips at the Celtic Knot trounced the Grafton’s, the latter of which both of us had thought were pretty good. Popcorn Princess enjoyed the fish of the day, a tilapia filet, simply cooked in butter with lemon juice and vegetables on the side. Drumstix had a delicious looking steak sandwich with Provolone cheese and roasted red peppers. Despite the general gorging that took place, we decided to finish things off with some dessert. We ordered the convenient dessert sampler, which came with smaller portions of three different items. Our universal favorite was the sticky toffee pudding, which had only a slight toffee flavor, but was warm, well-spiced and deeply flavorful.

It’s great to know that an Irish pub in the Chicagoland area can really produce food that’s authentic and delicious. At first glance, the Celtic Knot may seem like just another bar, but a mere bite of banger elevates it to gastropub status.

The Celtic Knot Pub
626 Church St.
Evanston, IL 60201

Celtic Knot Public House in Evanston

6 thoughts on “Better Irish in the Burbs

  1. Empanada Boy says:

    What a fun time! That was the second time I’ve been to the Celtic Knot and I had a great time & enjoyed the food on both occasions. And I love that I’ve been present to witness lil’ one-month-old Milkman’s firsts, that is, his first movie @ a movie theater, his first restaurant, and on this night, his first trip to a bar! Good times.

  2. Sir Lox of Bagel says:

    Peggy Kinnane’s in downtown Arlington Heights, is well worth the 45-50-minute drive from the Nort’side, too — The Wife’s Sourdough Bread Bowl is a cardiologist’s nightmare, but a culinarian’s delight. The Celtic Knot sounds good, but come on … drinking Boddington’s in an IRISH pub? That’s meshugge! ;>)

  3. Mango Lassie says:

    You make a good point about the Boddington’s, but of course we also had some Guinness black and tans, which I neglected to mention. Thanks for the suggestion of Peggy Kinnane’s. It’s not every day that I make it out to Arlington Heights, but the lure of strange and delicious meat products might be enough to get me there.

  4. Sir Lox of Bagel says:

    Downtown AH is actually an interesting mix of eateries from tapas to katsu to the old “diners” that were around when steam engines hauled Chicago & NorthWestern RR riders to Arlington Park as the 400s raced to and from places north and west. It’s definitely worth a quick culinary tour.

  5. Bugle Eater says:

    Actually one of the worst meals I have ever had. They always tell you that the food is made from scratch. It is not true. I had a bowl of lamb stew and it had to have been frozen — there were cold spots in it. The meat was grizzly and tough enough to sole your shoe. It was totally gross. Stick with the beer and the homemade chips. I have eaten here several times and was not impressed – very mediocre. DO NOT believe the hype about “fresh” made. It is bunk. After the lamb stew, I never returned.

  6. Mango Lassie says:

    Wow that is pretty harsh! The lamb stew I tasted was way better than what you describe. All I can say is perhaps they’ve made some big improvements or changed hands since you were last there. Or maybe you just got the grizzly leftovers…

    Either way, I definitely think Celtic Knot is better than the Grafton in Chicago.

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