Photo by: Ellen Descisciolo
on the Hudson
By B.A. Nilsson
41 Broad St., Waterford, 237-2829. Serving
Tue-Sun 11-9. AE, MC, V.
Cuisine: dictionary-definition pub fare
Entrée price range: $5.50 (your basic burger) to $13
(broiled seafood platter)
Ambience: Céad Míle Fáilte!
Clientele: locals and pub-seekers
As dotage ambles my way, I’m more and more persuaded that
life’s annoyances are best fought—or at least postponed—by
a pint of dark, foamy beer freshly drawn from the tap.
You have to admit that some of these recent
cold nights are the stuff of Adirondack legend, wherein your
very words freeze and aren’t heard until the spring thaw.
On one such night, having finished a long day in a rehearsal
hall, I was slouched in a comfortable chair near a crackling
fireplace draining a mug of Kielty’s Irish Ale, a Joycean
setting just right for a Joycean epiphany: This is the right
place to be right now.
That’s what Jimmy Kielty wants to hear. A longtime Waterford
resident, he was born in Dublin and managed, three years ago,
to recapture some of the spirit of his natal city with an
eponymous pub that’s just about as friendly a hangout as you
Which is a state of well-being not easily obtained in these
parts. We’ve got saloons a-plenty, but the demographics range
from noisy kid hangouts to weltschmerz-heavy dipso
bars. Kielty’s, located on Waterford’s main street, has a
smiling, eager look on the inside. Barstool patrons don’t
appear to be stitched to their seats, and the nearby tables
are taken by parties of different ages and attitudes. It looks
like a neighborhood cross section.
We’re not talking about gourmet dining. Chef John Morse has
no illusions about the fare he’s putting out; on the other
hand, he does more than able service within the limited realm.
You can see his skill best realized in such fare as the corned
beef and cabbage that’s a Thursday special. Mind you, it’s
not a difficult dish to make, but it’s an easy dish to let
slide when you’re offering it in quantity.
When we sampled the $8.50 entrée, the meat was a generous,
flavorful portion not too striated with fat, served with a
killer mustard that I need to stockpile in my own house. Cabbage,
potatoes and carrots would seem to complete the dish, but
you really do need a flagon of ale to really bring it all
Good thing there’s a specialty brew on hand. Kielty’s Irish
Ale is custom made for the pub by Davidson Bros. in Glens
Falls, one of the best breweries in our area. And it’s a good
pairing for the fish and chips, too ($7.50), which was named
an area favorite in a Times Union poll. With a juicy
piece of haddock at the center, it’s got the right fish and
the right batter and a perfect golden crunchiness to it; sides
of cole slaw and tartar sauce are ably prepared. My only quarrel
is with the fries, too reminiscent of the fast-food-chain
I hadn’t noticed that beer-battered steak fries were available
(a $3.50 appetizer); it would be worth it to pay extra for
The menu is brief and functional, abetted by a blackboard
listing of specials. Order the $10.75 sampler platter and
you get an overview of the starters, most of which are breaded
and fried. This includes onion rings and mozzarella sticks,
both of them beer battered, as well as jalapeño poppers, popcorn
chicken and chicken tenders. Roasted garlic mushrooms offer
a flavor and texture variety. All of these items are available
separately, priced from $3.50 to $6, and while they proved
to be predictable, they were reassuring in that predictability.
During one visit, I was in the company of folks with dietary
obsessions, and endured the inevitable sneers about so much
breading, so much fat. Interesting to note how easily they
allowed themselves a bite . . . then another . . . and then
one more. And another.
We also tried an order of Buffalo chicken wings ($6), which
are available in four temperature settings. The wimps at our
table prevailed and we ordered the least- threatening sauce,
but the server kindly slipped me a taste of the fiery stuff,
which was excellent.
Chicken, turkey, roast beef and ham, all cooked on the premises,
are available for the $7 club sandwich that’s served with
a pickle and chips. A selection of deli sandwiches also is
available, most of them $5.50, with the addition of tuna or
corned beef as a filling. And there’s a $4.75 bacon, lettuce
and tomato sandwich for a culinary nostalgia trip (it was
a staple of my childhood, at least).
Hungarian goulash was a special one recent evening, and it
was a huge portion of not-too-exciting stuff; then again,
it was exactly what you would expect from a pub kitchen. Meat
and macaroni with an easygoing sauce. Likewise, the broiled
seafood platter ($13), with a generous array of shrimp, scallops
and haddock on display, was under the heat a little longer
than I prefer. The crab cakes, also a component, were terrific
and warrant their own place as an entrée.
What sold me on Kielty’s, however, is the half-pound burger
I sampled on a later visit. The atmosphere was just as friendly,
the beer just as good—and the burger was a seething mass of
tasty ground beef poking out the sides of the bun like a fat
guy in old clothes. They range from $5.50 to $6.75, the latter
the price of the smokehouse burger, which adds onions and
barbecue sauce to a cheeseburger with fries. This is pub grub
at its best, and it’s why I’ll be returning.
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you eaten at Kieltys Emerald Isle
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