O’Casey’s has a Nice Atmosphere but No Happy Hour Specials
f you like to eat, chances are you like to drink (read: a lot of you are freakin’ lushes), so I thought maybe it was time to introduce a happy hour column to the site. Every week, our Happy Hour Correspondent posts about a different bar in Midtown that fits the Midtown Lunch mentality: unhealthy food, not lame (unless it’s lame in a cool way), and most importantly… cheap.
I had been eyeing O’Casey’s (41st btw. 5th and Madison) for a while. I had seen it several times near Yagura et al., and I noticed it had been around for a while (since 1974). As as an Irish Pub lover, I was intrigued. Then an O’Casey’s corner touter drew me in with their sign, and I asked if they had happy hour specials. “I’m sure they do” was the reply. I’m usually wary of those super-bored-looking human sign holders; it just shows how dependent the restaurant is on tourists. But Joy Curry does it, where prices aren’t bad and I (and several other Lunch’ers) think the food is good. So I let O’Casey’s have the benefit of the doubt and invited a group of coworkers to for after work bevvies since it’s right around the corner from our office.
We went along at 5:15 or so on a Thursday, and the bar was already pretty happening and busy. There were a lot of folks in suits – which can be a red flag that the bar is overpriced. As far as alcohol goes, unfortunately it was overpriced indeed. There was no happy hour as the sign guy suggested.
Although the booze selection was pretty good (with one of my faves, Goose Island IPA), the beer was served in a small pint — for $7. I was really hoping for an imperial pint. If any pub tried to pull off these prices in my largely Irish neighborhood in Queens, they’d get that tiny glass chucked right back in their face.
But alas, we were not in my neighborhood, we were in Midtown, land of the ripoff. So we decided to grin and bear it. Because there were five of us and no seats at the bar, we took a seat in the back. It was dimly lit and on the fancier side as Irish pubs go with cloth napkins and the whole lot. Service was good and our waitress was friendly and attentive, but it lacked original Irish charm (meaning, I didn’t interact with any clearly Irish people). Yet, we had a really good time at O’Casey’s. We had gone to Point Break not long ago, and although it was cheap, it was uncomfortable for a larger group. O’Casey’s was the opposite. The set up was very comfy and the music was there for the seven-minute lull in conversation but normally undetectable, so you could hear your buddies without any odd silences. There were a few TVs, but not ten on each wall, so the lack of sports distractions kept the conversation at the table. We had a great laugh over IPA and… chicken.
Of course I jumped right in and ordered Buffalo wings, which are only on their bar menu. Their bar menu is not listed on the menu outside, or on their website, but almost every item is $9. The table also went for the breaded chicken tenders with honey mustard. The whole table seemed to be happy with both dishes. The chicken tenders were tasty – very juicy with fluffy breading, and I should note there was more meat than I expected.
And on to the full Buffalo wing review. These wings (I counted 10 of them) were very good. They were lightly floured, something I’m enjoying more and more although not true Buffalo style (naked). We ordered extra hot sauce and that had a true Buffalo sauce flavor, and adhered to the wing well. The celery and carrots were fresh, and the blue cheese was different… but everyone seemed to like it. The chunks of blue cheese were really small – even tiny – the size of large grains of sand. But the flavor was excellent. I did notice a few odd things – the wings were cut awkwardly, the bone extended out into a sharp point on some of them. And I didn’t see many drummies – maybe none (we started eating them before I had a chance to examine each one separately). They were all the “forearm” part of the wing. So, if you like drummies better, you might be out of luck here.
The upshot? This pub is a place where you can a good conversation with your buddies, and the bar menu food seems good for the price. But if you like to drink, you’re going to be disappointed with the prices.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- I’m a fan of Irish pubs, so this is just my place.
- The bar menu has lots of choices for $9, the food is good, and the amount of food you get is respectable.
- I like a place where I can sit down with my friends and have a conversation without yelling.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- Whoa. Did you just say there’s no happy hour specials? Count me out.
- Another Irish pub? Yawn.
- I don’t like to go to any pub unless it’s a bona fide dive. This place is too fancy.
O’Casey’s, 22 E. 41st St., 212-685-6807