Wednesday, June 16, 2010

McShea's Restaurant and Bar

We mistakenly stumbled upon McShea’s (242 Haverford Avenue, Narberth, PA) a few years ago. We were trying to get to the Greeks, and before we made it to that side of the road from the Narberth train station (R5), decided to try out the little nondescript bar with an Irish flag flapping above the door.
Since that accidental discovery a few years ago, McShea’s has become a favorite – a weekly destination. We go (and so should you!) for a few reasons:
First, THE BEER! 12 beers on tap, over 60 bottles. Sure, some of them are BMC macro shit, but most of them are beers you won’t find at your usual bar – at least in this number. And sure, there are a few better places for beer on the Main Line (Guillifty’s in Rosemont, but their food sucks), but McShea’s has a great selection, location, and atmosphere. And not too expensive - $4.50 - $5 for something like Golden Monkey, Bass, Stella, or Philadelphia Brewing Co beers; up to about $7 for something like Ommegang’s Three Philosophers, Chimay Blue, or Dogfish head 90 Minute IPA. The beers don’t rotate as much as I’d like, but at least the standards are good. Plus, if you are coming with someone who’s not a beer drinker, there are gateway crafts. (OK, I haven’t actually had anything except beer while at McShea’s, but they do have my wife's absolute favorite gin, which most bars don’t have – Hendricks, and the wines seem decent. Plus, there is such a variety of beer that you could probably find something for your non-beer loving friend.)
Second, the Beer Box Challenge. Drink the 50 beers listed, and you get (get excited!!) your name on a brass plaque on the wall and your own mug to drink from while at the bar. Again, some of the beers in the Box suck (e.g. three different Michelob beers, c’mon! Michelob, Michelob Light, Michelob Ultra – ugh!), but they’re pretty good at letting you substitute a seasonal or other beer not on the Challenge for one of those I’d-rather-just-drink-water beers.
Third, the food is pretty good. You still go here for the beer, not the food, but the food is better than your usual bar food – pub food like fish and chips and seafood stew, but also some surprises like sushi, a hummus plate, mushroom quesadillas, etc.
And finally, the atmosphere – it’s a cozy, small bar area, but crowded or not, it feels warm. The bartenders are always accommodating, and you get the feeling that if they weren’t on shift they’d be right next to you with a nice pint. Also, this isn’t a place that you have to worry about looking up from your conversation or MegaTouch game to find that the place has been swarmed with undergrads. The age range is probably late twenties up to fifties. The exception to that is dinner time – a good number of kids, but they’re mostly confined to the restaurant area. No matter the time, just make sure to find a seat in the bar area, even if you have to stand around and wait – the atmosphere of the restaurant area is unimpressive, and even though this is no dive, I get the impression of sitting in a diner with wood floors covered in sawdust and picnic tables (to be clear, there isn’t actually any sawdust or picnic tables).
If you are in the Main Line area – go here! Also look for Quizzo on Tuesdays and Guest Bartender night on Wednesdays. A few drawbacks, but overall it’s a Main Line gem for beer.

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