Buffalo wings, I guess, Monty Gaels
  • Mike Sula
  • Buffalo wings, I guess, at Monty Gaels

At the third delivery of paper napkins, our server offered a simple explanation: “My boss is big on napkins,” she said, depositing a stack of tissuey white rectangles on the edge of the table. Or maybe we just looked like trouble, because these couldn’t have been for the buffalo wings, which were adhering to the Fauxrish bar cliche that says food in Ireland doesn’t get any more intensely flavored than boiled potatoes. There was but a wee drizzling of what I suppose was buffalo sauce on these deep-fried wings—maybe about a half napkin’s worth.

We were at Monty Gaels, in Lincoln Square on a highly traveled corner spot that’s seen more concepts come and go than can be explained by anything other than an eldritch curse. But this newest occupant is the latest from the Vaughan Hospitality Group, a consortium of Irish/sports bars (Mystic Celt, Corcoran’s, Emerald Loop) with menus that inevitably include wide-ranging generica like fish-and-chips, quesadillas, hummus, mac ‘n’ cheese, and burgers. Nothing new or surprising in any one of these places, but at least they know how to satisfy the sort of mob that demands coconut shrimp with its shepherd’s pie.

Actually, Monty Gaels appears to have popped out of a slightly altered mold. Yeah, there are the ever-changing shitty beer specials, and eight flat screens on the walls, each tuned to a different gladiator fight, but the menu indicates a hand more cheffy than usual at the wheel, with things like pork shoulder and cabbage cooked in Daisy Cutter, curried pumpkin-chicken soup, or smashed potatoes with Camembert—which is why it seems like it deserves more than just an uppity sneer on the way down the block to Taqueria el Asadero or the Tiny Lounge.

But you might regret that decision, especially if your Scotch egg is cooked to chewy and chalky and set carefully at the end of a dynamic smear of mustard alongside a pile of bagged mixed greens and citrus sections. Or if a BLT with fried green tomato, watercress, and avocado comes with plenty of bacon between its stale bread but none of the promised jowl. Or if a red-wine-braised short rib appears as a disintegrating gray slab covered in ketchup-y barbecue sauce. That all might very well happen—it happened to me—but at least you won’t be able to say you don’t have enough napkins to hide them under.

Monty Gaels, 4356 N Leavitt, 773-279-4900, montygaels.com