O’Brien’s Public House – A Unique Irish Experience
By Colin Ritsick
I don’t know if you’ve all heard yet or not, but there’s a big golf tournament coming to Minnesota at the end of September.
Golf courses all over the state, but specifically in the southwest metro area, are licking their chops at the idea of having the attention, and the customers, of not one but two continents for the weeks surrounding the hallowed Ryder Cup. But the economic impact is going to stretch beyond the links. The people have to eat, right?
If you are looking for good food at an honest price that comes to you from a made-from-scratch kitchen, with local produce on the menu, local daily specials and local beers on tap, you need to check out O’Brien’s Public House in Historic Downtown Shakopee. The fact that O’Brien’s also has a decked out patio, a special party room, as well as history and character coming out of its every nook and cranny is just an added bonus.
Scott O’Brien, a lifelong Shakopee resident, has wanted to own his own spot as long as he can remember. A number of years ago, he, and his wife Jody realized their hometown needed an Irish Pub. Sure, there were some good restaurants in the area. But they wanted a restaurant where the people could come and feel welcome – like it was their own place. After countless hours of planning and preparation, including a laborious trip to Ireland to research the finest pubs the country had to offer, the O’Brien’s idea started to come together.
The menu features Irish classics like Fish & Chips, Shepard’s Pie and a Rueben Sandwich but for Executive Chef Christine Castro, it goes deeper than “Irish food.” She knows that Irish food, real Irish food, is dependent on its surroundings which is why O’Brien’s has made a commitment to locally sourced and cooked specials and menu items like Minnesota Wild Walleye and Seasonal Chop Salads. They also change the menu three times a year with each change focusing on the season for which it’s designed.
You can find all of this flavor throwdown sitting on the corner of 1st Avenue and Spencer Street, in a building originally used as a car dealership in the 1940’s. Some of the old building remains the same such as the arched roof with exposed piping and an original wooden truss structure you’ll notice when you enter. Most of the other structures and decorations were brought in to create the feeling you get when you’re having a pint across the pond.
There is a special ‘snug’ area that sits up in the front of the pub and was the spot in the dealership originally dedicated to displaying the most current car of the time. You remember how they used to look right? The best car on the lot would sit in this room up front, glass windows for walls on a rotating floor, on display for the world to see. That exact same space has been repurposed and now is a reservable private party space with its own 70-inch flat screen and sound system. It’s not floor to ceiling glass like it once was, but the feel of the space remains. Light colored walls with plenty of windows give The Snug a warm, welcoming feel. And they views of the street and river beyond it don’t hurt either.
There is one new touch that beats anything that used to be there: the patio. What could you possibly want to do on a patio? Eat, drink, sit by a fire, watch TV, look over the lazy streets of downtown – you can do it all on the patio at O’Brien’s. The crowning jewel of the patio is the fireplace with eight seats around it and enough flat space to set your dinner tables on it. It’s the ideal way to unwind after long day.
The wooden floors and wooden booths throughout the pub lend a classic, authentic feel to the place. The 31-foot bar panels come straight from Back Bay, Boston out of an old pub that closed down and the back bar from another Boston Bar, The Remington, which was located on Boylston Street, both are over 100 years old. Stained glass windows that are about 150 years old from a North Yorkshire, England line the walls in certain spots. The booths line the back wall of exposed brick, as well as another row closer to the bar with about 25 high-tops separating the booths from the bar. Four large flatscreens sit over the bar – a perfect amount to let the patrons watch sports without the pub itself becoming a sports bar.
Leading up to the Ryder Cup, O’Brien’s will be holding events and giving away prizes, with the grand prize being a Guinness golf bag. The Ryder Cup will be on the TV’s at all times, the beers will be cold and the conversation will be flowing – as always.
If you’re among the vast majority of Minnesotans parking at Canterbury and taking the shuttle to Hazeltine, you’ll likely pass right by O’Brien’s. Even if you’re not lucky enough to score tickets to the Cup, stop by after your round on the links for a round at the bar. Nearby courses like Stonebrooke, The Wilds, The Meadows at Mystic, Legends Club, Chaska Town Course and Deer Run all are a short drive away.