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Mannion’s Pub & Restaurant more than just meat and potatoes!

May 17, 2009 • 8:24 am

Reverend John Graf, Jr., Food Chain Guest Blogger

Mannion’s Pub & Restaurant of Somerville will be celebrating its 10th year anniversary on May 19th and has certainly proved to the Central Jersey dining community that they’re more than just a meat and potatoes bar and grill.

After visiting Mannion’s last evening (Saturday, May 16) on my “second leg” of the 9-day dining tour I will be journeying through, I came to the conclusion that this long-standing traditional Irish Pub & Restaurant (recently voted as one of the top Irish Pub’s in the world by a national Irish Magazine) is the real deal.  Their standard fare of Sheppard’s Pie, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Irish Stew and Olde Irish Fish & Chips are well and good, however, Mannion’s is ready to challenge even some of the more elite restaurants in town with their special menu items.

I have known Mannion’s owner (Patrick Mannion) for just about his full 10 year stint in Somerville and admire him as one of the leading business leaders who gives back to the community.  This special guy (recently named Somerset County’s 2009 “Irishman of the Year”) does more than just serve up burgers and brews!  Mannion’s has been engaged in the Taste of Somerset, Culinary Invitational, and so many other charity events that reach out to them.  In fact, even last night, Pat was putting on a special fundraiser for a former Bernards High School classmate who passed away recently.  The place was packed with Class of 1982 guys and gals that laughed the evening away in tribute to their friend.  It was a joy to watch Pat give so much of himself!

Now for the tasty part of the evening.  Once again, I could have stuck to the prix fixe menu planned for “Somerville Restaurant Week” patrons ($19.09 special tab in honor of Somerville Borough’s 100th Anniversary), however, the Mannion’s specials of the evening drew me right away.  Thank God I took the detour!

I started the evening with a few pino grigios at the bar with Mannion’s 10-year veteran bar captain, Dennis Fulton.  I was waiting for my two guests, who unfortunately for them, had their car break down on Route 22 in North Plainfield and never arrived.  That was good news for me in the end, as it left more food for me.  I hate to share!

The meal started with a heaping order of one of the best Long Island baby neck clams I have had in a long while.  Well, since the previous night at Verve Restaurant.  Yes folks, Mannion’s can give their French-American bistro friends a run for their money in this appetizer category.  In fact, their order was double the size (20 tasty clams that I quickly sucked them right down).  The only difference between Verve & Mannion’s was the broth.  Each chef has a little different style — but, both are excellent.

Mannion’s Executive Chef Nelson Murillo then treated me to one of the best new fish dishes I have ever experienced.  The entree was a Baked Hawaiian Hebi fish, cooked in a scampi sauce that was out of this world.  The topping wasn’t over powering with garlic and allowed for a real enjoyment of the fish (that was a tender white fish that reminded me of a good swordfish).  Once again, there was a double order that allowed for me to take home a doggie bag.

Just when I was ready to call it quits, my delightful waitress,  a firecracker young lady with the biggest smile that can charm you all night long (Tatiana Zebeljan, who came to Mannion’s 3 years ago via Serbia), was bringing over another special of the evening for me to sample.  The Steak Worchestershire was a grilled sirloin topped with barbeque sauce, worchestershire and mozzarella chesse.  The different tastes had my mouth watering — It’s a must try menu item.

Hold on a minute now.  I couldn’t leave without trying some dessert now could I?  Tatiana convinced me, with no trouble at all, to try two “sweet tooth” highlights on the menu.  I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the carrot cake (very moist and filled with real carrot pieces that had a cream cheese icing that was not the usual overly sweet and gritty paste).  If that wasn’t good enough, I was brought an order of a fried bananna cheesecake with carmel sauce that put me over the top.  Both desserts were taste tested and then packed to go.  By midnight, I was home and breaking into the carrot cake remains for a grand finale before bed!  Sweet dreams for sure!

I’ll be returning to Mannion’s on Friday, June 5th for a special 10th Anniversary celebration, which will feature The Willie Lynch Trio for entertainment.  Mr. Mannion says there will be plenty of surprises during the evening and it will serve as a reunion for more than just his Bernards High gang.  If you’ve ever experienced Mannion’s, then come on out and toast the place for giving Somerville yet another grand dining establishment.  If you haven’t been to this fun-filled Irish Pub & Restaurant, they come on down.  You don’t have to be Irish to join in the festivities!

Mannion’s is located at 150 West Main Street in Somerville with reservations available by calling (908) 203-0700.  Visit their website at www.mannionsirishpub.com and find out more.


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