Shawn's Irish Tavern is a familiar name on the area food and bar circuit, a reliable bellwether for friendly service, solid menu choices, and comfortable settings.
With older locations in South Toledo and Waterville, the Lark brothers -- Jeff and John -- made a foray into Sylvania Township with the newest Shawn's at the corner of Bancroft Street and King Road in a long-vacant spot next to a video store. They opened the new place, appropriately enough, on St. Patrick's Day this year.
The result is a neighborhood bar that provides good food, a massive beer selection, and virtually any televised sporting event you'd want to watch. Shawn's is impeccably clean and spacious, with a friendly atmosphere that makes it common for folks who live in the area to walk in and immediately see old acquaintances.
Nothing on the menu -- which is the same for each of the three restaurants -- that we sampled was great, but nothing was bad either.
Standard bar appetizers -- cheese sticks, chicken strips, onion rings, nachos -- are available, but we steered toward sandwiches and entrees on our visits.
We tried the half-pound ground chuck burger ($7.15), which was ordered with mushrooms and swiss cheese. The burger came on a big Kaiser roll-type bun and it took two hands to handle the combination of meat and bread. The mushrooms were from a can and should have been sauteed longer to bring out more flavor. Onion rings on the side were ample and a nice complement to the sandwich, but they were not homemade.
A pulled pork sandwich ($6.95) featured the house-recipe sauce. It's sweet, but doesn't overdo it and for a bar that doesn't specialize in barbecue the pulled pork is a winner.
On a return visit we tried a couple of the entrees --the 12-ounce ribeye steak and the Lake Erie perch dinner.
The perch ($15.25) was excellent, thanks to a light breading that didn't overwhelm the fish's fresh, subtle flavor. The serving size was ample -- four planks -- and came next to a pile of steak fries that were fat and fried to perfection, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Shawn's has the fish as a special on Friday nights.
The ribeye ($15.50) was perhaps not the greatest cut of meat, but it was prepared just right and that's a fair price for what you get, given the rising cost of beef. A side of mashed potatoes was most satisfying because they were homemade and served piping hot.
A pizza ciabatta ($7.35) was essentially a pizza sandwich. Big enough that half of it went home with us, the pepperoni had a bit of spicy kick and the bread was fresh.
For dessert we ordered a piece of cheesecake ($2.25) with coffee. The cake comes from the Cheesecake Factory and it was pretty much what you'd expect.
One of Shawn's strengths is as a sports bar, so while the food is solid, the place really shines when it comes to beer -- 18 different kinds on tap, 24 bottled domestics, and 12 bottled imports -- and the opportunity to watch games because the walls are literally lined with televisions.
The space absorbs a crowd easily and the wait staff is attentive. However on one of our visits they seemed to be a bit out of sync, which slowed our meal down. Our waitress was excellent, but she was too busy, working both sides of the restaurant while other members of the staff were milling around and busing tables rather than waiting on people.
Shawn’s Irish Tavern
Address: 7436 W. Bancroft St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday, Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Wednesday, Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday, Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight, Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: shawnsirishtavern.com.
Contact Bill of Fare at: firstname.lastname@example.org.