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By WILLIAM M. DOWD, Associate editor
First published: Sunday, May 11, 2003

Old Dublin: New life for this old house

CLIFTON PARK -- There are three things the Capital Region restaurant scene has plenty of: Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants and Irish pubs.

Which means, if you plan to put a toe in those commercial waters, you better have a nice pedicure or plenty of working capital.

Billy and Angie Byrne have taken the plunge, renovating the 18th-century yellow farmhouse that for years had been the Olde Dater Tavern, then briefly Marisa's Olde Dater Tavern. Now, it's the Old Dublin Inn, complete with live music, a pub room and seven-day lunch and dinner service.

The Byrnes, who were involved with McGeary's in Albany until last summer, did a seven-week renovation project of this historic building, tucked in a hollow along Route 9 and Farm to Market Road.

A bar the top made of old church pews was placed in the largest of the seven rooms, a beer menu headed by 24 beers on tap and a wine list of 50-plus labels were put together, and Erick Brokaw (Parc V, D'Raymond's) was hired as chef.

The results: a comfortable taproom with exposed beams, a small performance space, and tables as well as bar-side seating; several intimate dining rooms take advantage of the crooked floors, walls and corners.

Constant Companion and I popped in on a recent weeknight and secured a table for two in a brightly painted room. Over a bourbon Manhattan and a Tetley English ale, plus a small loaf of Irish soda bread, we perused Brokaw's menu that promised a lot, from sandwiches, burgers and salads to full entrees.

Companion began with a garden salad that came with her entree selection, a proper salad of mixed greens, cucumber slices, bell pepper, green olives, black olives, chopped tomatoes and house-made croutons, topped with a thick, chunky bleu cheese dressing.

My starter was a cup of the house chili, a thick concoction with a liberal dose of Guinness that deepened the flavor, but a pasty consistency that didn't allow for much variety to the mouthfeel of the dish.

The main elements of our entrees were commendable.

Companion's rack of baby lamb was a half-dozen tender, succulent chops with a tasty mustard crust. My marinated flatiron steak was grilled perfectly medium rare, sliced and served with a robust Madeira/mushroom sauce.

The accompaniments were less successful. My sliced steak was perched on a bed of corned beef hash, good enough in itself but a rather odd accompaniment I had trouble getting my palate around.

For her part, Companion had requested extra broccoli in place of ``smashed'' garlic potatoes but the kitchen plopped her lamb atop a pile of potatoes anyway. That followed delivery of the wrong salad dressing. Even though our waitress caught both errors and corrected them, it showed someone's ongoing lack of attention to detail.

We passed on dessert the likes of tiramisu, chocolate cake and cheesecake and settled up our bill: $69.34 before tip.

The Byrnes have a nice place, especially for the over-30 crowd in search of a smokeless pub with live entertainment. This latest chapter in the old house's history holds great promise.

Dowd's reviews are archived online at http://timesunion.com. His own travel and food site is http://TasteForTravel.com.


*

Old Dublin Inn
Route 9 at Farm to Market Road
Clifton Park

877-0100

* Cuisine: Contemporary
* Style: Pub/tavern
* Ambience: Irish pub in 1700s farmhouse.
* Rating: **1/2
* Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
* Price: $$
Price rating based on rough average of entree costs: $ for $9.95 and less; $$ or $15.95-$10.95; $$$ for $15.95 and higher.

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