Review and photo by B.A. Nilsson
Pub & Grill
153 Mohawk Ave., Scotia, 382-8909. Serving Mon-Thu 11-9, Fri-Sat
11-11, Sun 4-9. AE, CB, D, DC, MC, V. Food: ***½ Service:
Personable Ambience: Friendly
was something of a family reunion when O’Leary’s opened in
Scotia two years ago. Brothers Kevin, John and David are natives
of that village and, says Kevin, “it’s great to be able to
give something back to the community.” He and John are the
active partners: John brings 25 years of cooking experience
to the kitchen, while Navy veteran Kevin has a keen sense
of what’s needed to run the front of the house.
The result you could loosely term an Irish bar. Decor and
choice of spirits support that image. But it goes way beyond
just the bar business here, and that’s why my family and I
visited on a recent weeknight for dinner. This place is so
family-friendly that we were surrounded by Scotians out to
dinner with their kids—or on a date, or just catching up with
And, I should confess, that was neither my first nor last
visit. My first, in fact, was almost inadvertent, and came
at the urging of my friend Dennis, an O’Leary’s regular. I
returned a week later with my wife and enjoyed a similarly
pleasant meal. It’s worth noting, however, that the place
can get packed at lunchtime, and I’ve seen the staff get caught
shorthanded—but they deal with it so nicely that I can’t get
grumpy about it, and I’m notoriously short of patience at
Food was consistently good from visit to visit, and the enthusiasm
of the servers was just as genuine each time. As I later learned,
the staff hired for the restaurant’s opening haven’t much
changed in two years: A couple of the younger people went
off to college, but that’s it.
is exactly what a town like this needs,” my wife, Susan, observed.
“You’ve still got a downtown, with sidewalks. Still got a
sense of the village square. A pub like this is important.”
And the fact that it’s a smoke-free environment scored big
points with her, too.
Inside, the bar is separated from the dining area by a low
wall capped with all-season foliage. (“Plastic,” said my daughter,
fingering a leaf, then adding helpfully, “but it still smells
We took the only available table in the crowded room. As customers,
my family and I can be very annoying. We were gabbing with
each other, gabbing with Dennis, while our server tried gently
to get an order out of us. So I chose an appetizer of fried
ravioli ($5), an up-and-coming bar-food favorite that, should
it displace potato skins and fried mozzarella in popularity,
would restore my faith in humanity’s taste. No surprises here:
It’s standard-issue cheese-filled ravioli that gets breaded
and deep fried, served with marinara. But it presents a slightly
more complex mix of textures than many of its appetizer cousins
while still maintaining the basic requirements of bar food,
namely heat, fat, crunchiness and some manner of sauce or
You can get a $5 cheese-and-pepperoni plate here, or a not-bad
crock of chili for $3.50. Chicken wings, chicken nuggets,
nachos and quesadillas are in the $6 range, and there’s even
a $4 starter of crab-stuffed portobello mushrooms.
My daughter, Lily, initially dismissed the ravioli idea; when
the plate arrived, she commandeered half of the serving. But
she abandoned it as soon as her entrée appeared: O’Leary’s
fishamajig ($7), a serving of fried haddock on a chibatta
roll (an Italian-style bread with a chewy crust and moist
interior; the word means “slipper”)—liberally buttered and
served with lettuce and tartar sauce, crispy fries and ketchup.
The menu changes every three months or so, but maintains a
list of favorites that the regulars enjoy. And it’s vegetarian
friendly—“There aren’t many vegetarian options in Scotia,”
says John O’Leary—with a veggie burrito and a black-bean burger
among the offerings.
I went a different burger route and ordered bison ($7), a
hefty portion of meat with a rich flavor that would trouble
nobody who enjoys beef. And, as is quickly explained, it’s
better for you, although there’s little out there that’s worse
for you than commercially packaged beef. Anyway, the half-pound
bison burger is served on a hard roll with a side of fries,
and is as good a ground meat concoction as I’ve had in a long
time. And you can get it gussied up with cheese (which I chose),
mushrooms, onions—anything that’s served with the beef burger.
Other hot sandwiches include roast beef, turkey, a couple
of different reubens, sausage and more, priced from $6 to
$7; deli sandwiches are in the $5 range and include baked
ham, tuna, BLTs and even liverwurst.
Susan’s entrée choice was the burrito el grande ($7),
which lived up to its promised size. A huge flour tortilla
is wrapped around beef or chicken (she chose the latter),
and baked with cheese (Monterey Jack and cheddar), rice and
other veggies, served with salsa and sour cream. It was enough
to provide another full meal after it arrived home as a leftover.
We finished with coffee and tea and dessert, the last-named
a slice of rich chocolate cake adorned with ice cream, again
fairly straightforward stuff. Dinner for three, with tax and
tip, coffees and dessert, was $45.
& Puccini, an evening of light opera and food with an Italian
theme, will be held as a benefit for the Schenectady Symphony
Orchestra at 6:30 PM Friday, March 15, at the Holiday Inn,
Nott Terrace, Schenectady. Area performers including Michael
Clement, Arthur DeLuke, John Lopez, Joann Rautenberg, Corine
Salon, Janet Stasio and Lisa Lombardo will be featured; the
menu includes hors d’oeuvres and pasta and carving stations.
There also will be a cash bar. The event is $35 per person,
and reservations can be made by calling 372-7145. . . . The
Hudson Valley Council of Girl Scouts will celebrate the annual
Trefoil Awards and the 90th Birthday of Girl Scouting at the
Desmond Hotel in Albany from 7 PM to midnight on Friday,
March 8. The evening includes a seafood presentation, hors d’oeuvres
and an elaborate stationed buffet. Desmond Executive Chef Michael
St. John will create a variety of desserts using Girl Scout
Cookies, such as English Trifle with Trefoil cookies, Coconut
Cream Parfaits with crushed Ole’ Ole’ cookies, Strawberries
Romanoff with crushed Aloha Chip cookies and Thin Mint cookies
layered with Creme de Menthe mousse. Tickets are $75 per person.
For reservations, call Sharon Smith at 489-8110 ext.105. . .
. Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.