The Amateur Palate
(We know what we like)
By Cecily & Frederick Faux Gras
And Nick & Patsy Fagioli
(The Amateur Palate, a new addition to the Pawling Public Radio site, will feature local restaurant reviews, by four people who just like to eat. They claim no professional food knowledge, but “know what they like,” and hope their opinions will encourage others to try new and different food pairings.)
With the recent heat wave, Patsy and I thought it was just too hot to cook dinner, so we had Nick and Fred meet us at McGrath’s on the corner of East Main St. and Route 22 in Pawling, one week night.
McGrath’s (formerly McKeever’s) opened its doors a little over a year ago. Since the change in management, we’ve visited several times and have never been disappointed with our meal. Under the new ownership of the McGrath family, we’ve seen the restaurant improve little by little. The interior has been redecorated with a homey Celtic theme, and the menu updated to include Irish favorites such as Bangers and Mash, McGrath’s Shepherds Pie, and Corned Beef and Cabbage.
The staff is friendly and accommodating. Occasionally you may feel as if you are being rushed, as the minute you put your fork or spoon down, your plate is whisked away. On our most recent visit, my dining companions had finished their salads, and while I was still eating mine, our entrees were brought to the table, causing some awkward rearranging and passing of plates by us and our server.
The menu offers a variety of burgers, salads, seafood and meat entrees, and there is a lunch menu, Early Bird Specials, as well as daily specials. As always, the bar was busy, and most tables were taken. We were greeted by patrons we know, which is common of local area dining.
On this visit the four of us shared two appetizers, (as we often do); stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with a tartar-like dipping sauce, and the Buffalo Beef Tips. The two huge mushrooms were stuffed with a moist, flavorful lump crabmeat stuffing. We were all in agreement that the mushrooms were quite tasty, while the beef tips were good, but not exceptional. They were served with a chopped celery and lettuce salad and blue cheese dipping sauce.
We all opted for the house dressing (a creamy balsamic parmesan) on our salads, which were plentiful, fresh and crisp. (As mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have been able to finish mine before our main courses arrived.)
Patsy enjoyed her Broiled Salmon with a Honey Dijon Glaze. She said the fish was cooked perfectly, flaky and moist. She chose the rice pilaf as her side. The veggie of the day was steamed broccoli and carrots.
Nicky’s Stuffed Sole was two large fillets with McGrath’s signature lump crab stuffing, topped with a lemon butter sauce. He too had the rice and vegetables.
Frederick ordered the Prime Rib, house cut, medium rare, side of seasoned rice, and the vegetables. He said the beef was a generous portion, and cooked to his liking, but nothing to write home about. He did enjoy the rice as his accompaniment.
My Gorgonzola Chicken, chicken breasts sautéed in a red wine reduction and topped with Gorgonzola, were served with mashed potatoes and the steamed carrots broccoli. The chicken had absorbed the wine sauce, making it flavorful and moist. The mashed potatoes were both creamy and lumpy, which is the way I like them. We all agreed the broccoli and carrots could have been seasoned better and although served al dente, were a little too crisp.
Our dessert choices included generous slices of rich, decadent Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake; a tasty apple crisp served ala mode with local Heinchon’s ice cream. The boys shared the apple crisp, while our servings of cheesecake were so large; Patsy and I had to take most it home to enjoy the next day, and the day after!
McGrath’s is a great place to go for casual dining. It’s local and serves reasonably priced meals. Servings are generous and well presented, and the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. We’ve never been disappointed eating here.
146 East Main Street (Rt. 22)