There is no mistaking the fact that Finbar's is, indeed, an authentic Irish pub. From the massive woodwork and trim, to the authentic signs and stained glass, from the furniture and the flickering fireplace to the menu itself, this place just screams "Order Me Some Irish Comfort Food!"
On one of our visits, we started with the Irish Ale Battered Oysters and the Guinness Stout Rings. The oysters were expertly fried, and the taste of the beer was evident in every bite. The cool remoulade (basically Russian dressing) had a nice spicy kick and worked well with the hot little bivalves. The onion rings had the unmistakable taste of Guinness Stout, but the coating wasn't as crispy as the oysters'. I suspect that the breading was a bit too thick, making it hard to get them crunchy the way onion rings usually are. (This isn't to say we didn't finish 'em off, mind you, but we wished for more of a "crunch.") On another visit, one of us ordered the chili, the "Soup of the Hour." Infused with cheese and chunky goodies, it had a very nice chili-powder flavor.
Others joined forces and ordered the Seamus' Blue Crab Dip. Served with lots of crispy, garlicky toast rounds and crackers, it was loaded with cheese and crabmeat. But I'm sad to say that it was served lukewarm. It would have been so nice if they had puffed up the cheese a bit under a broiler flame and let it arrive at the table hot and bubbly. We ate it all, but every bite was a room-temperature reminder of what could have been.The server highly recommended the Calamari, but nobody ended up ordering it. Please post a comment below if you have had it. I'd love to know how it was.
On all of our visits so far, the star of the main course show has been the "Boxty." Think of a chicken pot pie wrapped omelet-style in a thin and lightly crunchy potato pancake. Both the potato pancake and the filling were delicious (it's discounted on Thursdays off-season). No wonder the Irish are so friendly! (Well, not quite. See the second update below.)
Another visit involved the Fish & Chips and the RTM Burger. The Fish & Chips employed a generous serving of moist, flaky cod. Though the taste and texture of the fish itself was quite good, we were disappointed that the Irish-ale battered coating was not firm and crunchy (see BOTH updates below). The taste of the beer was evident, but the mouth-feel was soggy and bready. I think it was suffering from the same syndrome as the onion rings. (Hotter oil? A little thinner coating, maybe?) Whatever has to be done, this beautiful piece of fish deserves a crispier coating. I'm anxious to order the Shrimp & Chips and see if the smaller amount of batter on the obviously smaller shrimp will crisp up better. Has anyone had it? Post below, please.
UPDATE! I'm impressed (and complimented). Jim from Finbar's posted an early summer 2010 comment (see below) regarding the coating on the Fish & Chips. Apparently they have reworked it so it's crispier. I have added Finbar's to my "go back asap" list to check it out. If you go and have the F&C, please post a comment below. It is really a nicely portioned and tasty piece of fish. If they've made the coating right, it will be a feast. Thanks Jim. I am honored that you took note of my advice.
NOT SO QUICK! ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, it's early spring, 2012, and a recent visit verified the rumor that the soft, thick and gluey coating on the Fish & Chips is indeed back. Also, I've received multiple emails regarding the fact that Finbar's has taken the Boxty off the menu. Sadly, it was one of their best dishes. Too bad.
The burgers are thick and lean. On the most recent visit I had the RTM burger (roasted red peppers, brie(!) and a dollop of dijon). The burger was hot and juicy and the roll was soft and fresh. If all the burgers on the menu are like this, then Monday's burger night (off-season) should go onto your calendar as a destination. We have friends who like to sit Monday nights at the huge and impressive 130+ year-old bar (carted all the way from the "Kensington" neighborhood in Philly), nosh on burgers and quaff stouts until they fall off the attractive, vintage bar stools.
You can't miss Finbar's impressive facade on the south side of Rehoboth Avenue just a block east of the circle. The staff and servers are friendly and it just feels happy in there. Of course, plan ahead like your favorite Foodie does and always call to make sure they are open (302) 227-1873. Check out their specials on the "Cheap Eats" list on this site. Click here for the menu with Finbar's main courses. (L., D., Bar) Price range: Moderate -.