Claddagh Irish Pub: A Sad Day for the Irish

Written By Caroline in Reviews

Front of the Claggagh Irish Pub in Mason by Caroline Wik

Front of the Claggagh Irish Pub in Mason

Claddagh Irish Pub

5075 Deerfield Blvd
 Mason, OH 45040


Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 Plates
Hours: Sunday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – Midnight
Friday & Saturday: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Price: $8-$15

Claddagh Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

There have been signs up advertising a new chef at the Claddagh Irish Pub in Mason. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, and remembering my previous mediocre experiences with the Claddagh, I thought we could give it another shot. We went on a weekday night hoping the crowd would be low and that we could be seated quickly.

I was surprised to see how many cars were in the parking lot, and even more so when we walked in and found that only the bar had patrons, while the regular dining areas were sparse.

We were seated almost immediately, and reminded by the hostess that they have a new chef and the menu had been through some changes. The interior is pretty neat with lots of stone and dark woods, almost like being in a tavern somewhere in Ireland.

But that’s about where the fascination stops. Despite having ample space in the restaurant, they still felt it necessary to cram too many tables too close to each other, even the hallway had tables in it. It was lucky they didn’t have any patrons seated in the hallway tables, as you wouldn’t have made it through if people had been sitting down.

When we were seated, the table and menu were sticky, really sticky – kind of gross if you ask me. But, our waitress was polite and very friendly so we decided to stick it out. For an appetizer we shared an order of the hummus with crispy pita chips – which were neatly placed in a basket with faux-newspaper in it that I thought was a nice touch. The hummus and pita chips were pretty bland and boring.

Claddagh Irish Pub - Hummus and Pita Chips by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - Hummus and Pita Chips

It was also made quickly apparent that we had apparently wandered in during happy hour – as the bar was pretty full and they were doing a silly trivia game. Despite being around the corner from the bar and the lack of many patrons, the restaurant was still pretty noisy – but not unbearably so.

Before we get too far into the review, I feel it necessary to point out that I realize most people go to the Claddagh for the bar as it apparently has a great selection of beers. We’re not bar people and even less so beer people – so we skipped all of that and just had a regular dinner. Besides, we were hungry – not thirsty.

The lack of many choices on the menu was a little bit saddening. I was tempted to get the Shepherds Pie as it’s a good traditional dish, but the memory of how horrible it was the first time I had it at the Claddagh years ago prohibited me from ordering it. It was like eating soggy cardboard on a bed of mushy wet paper (the mashed potatoes).

Claddagh Irish Pub - Monte Carlo by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - Soggy Soppy Sugary Monte Carlo

So, against my wish of getting good Irish fare, I just ordered a Monte Carlo. I figured that I had only had a bite of one once before at a different restaurant and it was pretty tasty, so I wouldn’t mind having it again. Adam ordered the Bacon and Cheese Tartlet. His came with a side of salad and mine with fries.

The Monte Carlo was the most horrifying thing I’ve eaten in a long time. It tasted like a sugary soppy breakfast omelette, particularly with the jelly alongside it. I figured when they said it was griddled that it would have been crispy – you know, like grilled cheese. But no, it was soggy more like french toast, had a hefty dusting of sugar on top, both so overpowering that it was hard to taste the turkey, cheese or anything else inside it.

“This is…” Adam said to me in regards to his Bacon and Cheese Tartlet, “not fit for human consumption…” Considering that Adam has an iron stomach and will eat just about anything – no matter how bad it is – that was a surprising statement. After taking a bite, I had to agree with him, it was pretty terrible. The dressing on the salad was very runny and tasted like lemon Pine Sol in a horrible way. Because of it being runny it went all over the plate and the tartlet had soaked a lot of it up which was most unfortunate. The parts of the tartlet that had not soaked up the dressing tasted pretty much just like basic unseasoned fried ham and egg.

So then I decided it was time to try the fries I had. They were actually okay, and I was happy to have something decent to eat after that nasty sandwich. The fries had been lightly salted and seasoned, then fried as usual. I decided to put some of the ketchup on my plate and dip some in it and decide from there if I wanted to eat them with or without it.

Big mistake.

Claddagh Irish Pub - Ham and Cheese Tartlet by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - Ham and Cheese Tartlet

Claddagh Irish Pub - The Heinz Ketchup was Horribly Soapy by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - The Heinz Ketchup with a touch of Dawn

I’ve always avoided the ketchup and other condiments on tables as I’m a mild germaphobe (compared to the hard core germaphobes in my family – you know who you are) but I never felt bad about using them when I felt it necessary. However, when I bit off the chunk of french fry that had been dipped in a generous amount of ketchup I suddenly felt as though I would vomit on the spot. The ketchup tasted like someone had stirred in dish soap; it was horribly offensive. I suspect it could have mixed with some soap that must have dried on the plate and went overlooked, as I can’t think of any other reasonable explanation – and I’m not about to blame the restaurant for putting soap in their ketchup, that’d be crazy. This took the cake as the worst thing I have eaten in a long while.

Our waitress wandered by after we were done to take the plates and asked if we had saved any room for dessert. Her friendliness helped us to forget the nasty meal we had just had. After we replied yes (and I regret doing that now) she seemed shocked, like nobody ever ordered dessert. Polite and friendly as she was, I only wish she would have been polite enough to tell us please don’t make another mistake.

Adam ordered the Bread and Butter Pudding while I ordered the Beautiful Baby Banoffee. Neither beautiful nor delicious was either dish. They used soda bread and cranberries in the Bread and Butter Pudding, which added some flavor in addition to the intense kick of sweet from the glaze, but it was still a pretty bland dessert.

Claddagh Irish Pub - Bread and Butter Pudding by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - Bread and Butter Pudding

Claddagh Irish Pub - Beautiful Baby Banoffee by Caroline Wik

Claddagh Irish Pub - Beautiful Baby Bano-yuck

The Banoffee had graham crackers on the bottom, a lot of bananas and toffee in the middle, and terrible whipped cream on top. The bananas tasted old, like they had been sitting out too long but to be honest, the dish overall was just shockingly bland. Aside from the terrible choice of whipped cream and the bananas being excessively soft and sugary, this dessert was as bland as the other.

Well, did we get this one all wrong? Do we have to redo it or try a different location? Or did we get it right? Let us know in the comments.

Verdict: Avoid Like A Soapy Plague

The appetizers, entrees and desserts that we had were downright terrible. Terrible enough that I wonder how on earth this place has staid in business for so long. But then I realize that not only is it a small chain (only around 10 locations, mostly in Ohio but a few in other states) but nobody that I’ve heard talk about liking it had the dinner – they went to the bar. Having not done so, I can’t really say anything about it. So, maybe you’ll like it, maybe you wont. I’m sorry we cannot afford to be much help in that regard. Some time in the future we will try the other location in Kentucky and see how it stands up. Different chefs could mean a much better experience.

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  • Don W

    My wife and I ate at this location in mid-July and our experience was very similar. Our waiter said that he was formerly a car detailer (!) and he was absolutely, utterly clueless about absolutely everything regarding service, from getting water out to the table to serving utensils with items, and doing so in a timely manner. Ribs were dry, the salads had a huge amount of stuff like onions out of proportion to the size of the salad, and french onion soup had a terrible, off flavor. We also had to listen to the loud trivia guy bark in a microphone to the bar people. Every item we got was mediocre to terrible, and service took forever.

    I hope you didn’t pay for your meal. The unwholesome substance in the ketchup would cause me to walk without paying. And we didn’t pay, the manager waved us out.

    If you check the chain’s web site, it has no complaint or feedback form (or I could not locate one.) They literally do not seem to care.

    Claddagh Mason is absolutely terrible. Avoid.

  • Adam

    We’ve actually heard from several people now with similar experiences. We’ve also heard both Dingle House and Brazenhead are much better representatives of good Irish fare, so we intend to try them soon.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us! It’s always good to hear back from people to know whether our experience was the norm since we can’t always revisit everywhere.

  • Don W

    No problem. It seems that the pub is experiencing a long term slide downward. We started going perhaps five years ago and everything then was fresh, unique and pretty good. At present Claddagh Mason is representative of a wanna be American fare place that should be closed down by the health department.

  • Don W

    PS: You have a very nice blog. The design is sharp and attractive and the writing in your posts is very good.

  • Adam

    Thanks! We do our best. Caroline gets all the credit for the design.

  • Penni D

    We literally just came back from The Claddagh in Mason and I have to say it was very good. We had the Onion soup which was very tasty, I had the Balsamic Chicken…excellent as well as the fries. My husband had Irish Stew and said it was very good. The soda bread was also very good. We have been there several times and I can’t say we ever had a bad meal. Our waiter was wonderful, the manager checked in with us. All in all a very nice dinner.

    • Adam

      We’ll definitely give it another try someday. I like to assume when we have a bad experience somewhere that it was just an off day for them and give them a second chance. Thanks for commenting!

  • Pama, the healthy foodie

    LOL! I cracked up reading this posting. I am not surprised at how awful the food was there, however. I cannot remember ever having had a decent meal at any Irish pub/restaurant in metro Cincinnati. Or elsewhere for that matter, including (let’s face it) Ireland.

    • http://www.OneCleanPlate.com Caroline Wik

      Haha, I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I admit, I haven’t found good a good Irish place in Cincinnati either – but I wish there was since I still think Irish food could be good. I’ve had good Irish in other (U.S.) cities but I’ve not had the chance to visit Ireland yet ;)

    • Cormaccushen

      As an Irish person working in Cincinnati ,your comments suggest ignorance !

  • Travis

    If Cincinnati doesn’t have a decent Irish
    restaurant try Molly Maloan’s or Cock&Bull
    in Covington.

    • http://www.gplus.to/carolinewik Caroline Wik

      Thanks for the recommendations! We’ll have to give them a try soon. There really doesn’t seem to be much in the way of good Irish food this side of the river.