Leaving Old Town Fairfax and entering a scene straight from the streets of Dublin, The Auld Shebeen offers a relaxed pub atmosphere ideal for anyone looking for traditional Irish dining paired with a low key, yet fully stocked bar. Located on the corner of Chain Bridge Road and North Street, the dimmed lighting and clover green accents set the stage for the fiddle-heavy Irish music that plays throughout the restaurant.
Irish blessings are painted atop every wall, right above a display of various Irish landscapes and historical sites matted in gold frames. Equipped with more than five oversized flat-screen television sets, the bar broadcasts anything from American football to English football, better known here as soccer. The mix is sure to satisfy any sports fan, young or old. A father with his son, who was sporting an Arsenal soccer jersey, snagged a cocktail table for a front row seat to the game and enjoyed father-son style while eating burgers and fries.
Without any hesitation, the host sat me at a booth near a small stage where live Irish music can be heard every Friday and Saturday from 7 – 9:30 p.m. Tuesday is karaoke night, Wednesday poker, Thursday dance party and Friday features local bands that play in their cellar below. These are just some of the weekly events locals can frequent at Auld Shebeen.
The menu featured an extensive selection of Irish favorites ranging from Shepard’s Pie ($10.95) to Burdock’s Fish and Chips ($12.95). American favorites, like the Classic Reuben with fries ($7.95), are also served.
For starters, the Sausage Rolls ($6.95) came encased in buttery and flaky puff pastry with a side of mustard dip and were adorned with parsley bits. The melt-in-your-mouth pastry and sausage combo was made for the spicy mustard like ketchup was for fries. With the perfect amount to whet any appetite without spoiling it, it was time for the main course.
Sticking with my homage to Irish cooking, I followed with the Corned Beef and Cabbage ($11.95). It arrived by way of delectable presentation, including smoothly mashed potatoes and boiled cabbage topped with generous pieces of tender corned beef and covered in a cream sauce. It was accompanied by a side of freshly steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. The perfect comfort food, every layer of this dish got better by the bite and left me full and content like my mother’s home cooking.
Like any real connoisseur of comfort food knows, the comfort’s never fully reached until dessert. For my sweet finish, I took the waitress’ advice and went with the Shebeen Bread Pudding ($4.95). It arrived hot, atop a plate drizzled in chocolate syrup and crème anglais sauce beside a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a dollop of whip cream, complete with a strawberry on top. The bread pudding was baked firm to perfection, sprinkled with sweet powdered sugar and packed with hints of cinnamon and raisins. The vanilla ice cream cooled down the warm treat and was the perfect ending to Irish tradition done right.
With delightfully accommodating service, it was an experience of overall Irish charm. The Auld Shebeen is the perfect place to catch a game on the tube, take a load off after your 9 – 5 or just take in the atmosphere with friends and family. So for those of you who go by the “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” rule, stop by the pub. May your pints of Guinness be many and your troubles be few…or something like that.
The Auld Shebeen
3971 Chain Bridge Rd
Fairfax, VA 22030
Hours: Sunday – Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.