The Irish part: There are 50 different labels of Irish whiskey, single-malt and blended, on the top shelf behind the long copper-topped bar.
The friendly barkeeps pour Guinness with a flourish that is sometimes shaped just like a shamrock.
The American part: Life of Reilly makes a great big plate of Tater Tots topped with cheese, bacon and green onion as a bar snack. Delicious. You need to get some.
The Baltimore part: Everyone in the neighborhood rolls in to Life of Reilly sometime during the week. And the crab dip is really good.
We dropped by last week for a couple of drinks and some after-work snacks and had a great time. I had never been to Reilly’s–at least, not since it was Simon’s, long ago–but once we found a seat at the bar we were made to feel right at home.
The layout is typical of a rowhouse bar–long bar in front, with standup tables to the side, and tables for dining and drinking in the back. There is a tiny kitchen in the wayback, and the dishes they can turn out of there are impressive–the shepherd’s pie ($12.99 for a massive slab, $7.99 for a half order, which should do most people for a meal) sounds like it’s worth a return visit, and so does the Guinness stew ($14.99 massive, $8.99 half), which is beef and vegetables braised in Guinness stout served with soda bread and champ–which is mashed potatoes liberally laced with cream, butter and green onions—on the side.And there are fish and chips ($14.99), made of fresh cod. And if you are not feeling very Irish, there’s grilled chicken ($14.99, two sides), crab cake (market price, two sides) and veggie pasta ($11.99).
But we were there for drinks and snacks. First we tried the crab dip ($9.99), which was served with warm pita triangles. There was a lot of crab in that dip, and a lot of good cheddar cheese, and just enough Old Bay to set the whole thing off.
Mary Helen had a riesling, and I tried a Black O’Lantern, which is a seasonal pumpkin ale (seriously, it’s reminiscent of pumpkin pie, only beery) topped off with Guinness. Get it? Black O’Lantern? The beer was probably a little heavy for the crab dip, but perfect with the Loaded Cheese Tots ($6.99).
The tots were piled high on a 12-inch oval platter, drizzled with melted cheddar, and tossed with a few slices of thick bacon, chopped, and scallions, also chopped. The tots are crispy, the cheese is melty and salty and good, what’s not to like about bacon, and you can count the onions as a vegetable serving.
Other apps–steamed shrimp, wings, Buffalo shrimp, and sweet potato fries.
We had a fine time chatting with the busy bartender and some nearby customers. No wonder Life of Reilly is renowned for its happy hour.
Our excellent evening produced a tab of $34.70, including tax but not the tip.
Life of Reilly, 2031 E. Fairmount Ave., is open weekdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., and weekends 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Check the daily specials.
by Mary Helen Sprecher