Any plans for St. Patrick’s Day? You may want to make them right about now. Sunnyside’s very own P.J. Horgan’s serves up delectable and authentic Irish cuisine that pairs nicely with a big ol’ pint of Guinness (or a finger or two of Jameson, depending on your taste).
I walked into P.J. Horgan’s last night and a nice gentleman sitting at the bar suggested I find my own seat. “I’ll go right ahead,” I said, and he smiled with a twinkle in his eye–the beginnings of a magical experience at the small Irish pub on Queens Boulevard.
The booths are wooden and aren’t very deep, prompting you to sit upright and forward more than a booth at, say, Sarabeth’s might. I liked the alertness I was forced to adopt as a result of the booth’s design. It made me ready to consume hearty Irish cooking.
MDP arrived shortly after I sat down, and we both ordered pints of McKenzie’s hard cider, which is on tap at the pub. An accommodating waitress (who, authentically, had an Irish accent) brought us a basket of soda bread, which bears an unusual hint of rye but has the same crumbly consistency of every other soda bread I’ve ever tried. I liked it.
Soon after the soda bread came, our appetizer followed. We ordered potato skins stuffed with bacon and cheddar off the spare, simple menu. To be honest, P.J. Horgan’s hardly innovates when it comes to appetizer selections; fried foods figure prominently on this list. But the pub delivered on the potato skins–the potato itself was baked perfectly and the bacon/cheddar combo saturated my taste buds with fatty goodness. We scarfed ’em down in no time.
For our entrees, we ordered off the Irish portion of the menu: I got the shepherd’s pie, while MDP tried the curry chicken, which is touted as P.J. Horgan’s very best dish. A word on non-Indian curries: I like to call them the “Queen’s curry” because they are unlike Indian curries, which tend to be simply spiced stews. British/Irish curries have a more robust curry powder flavor at the fore, and feature more vegetables (such as mushrooms, peppers and onion, as was present in the P.J. Horgan rendition). That’s not to say Indian curries do not contain curry powder or the aforementioned vegetables. But Indian curries do tend to have a more nuanced spice flavor–coriander, curry, cardamom, turmeric and cumin tend to make the cut of ingredients–and often contain coconut milk and/or yogurt. Personally, I like both the Queen’s curry and traditional Indian curry for their distinctive, very different flavors. P.J. Horgan’s serves up yellow rice and steak fries with their curry, further setting it apart from its distant Indian cousin. It was very good.
I loved my shepherd’s pie, which was filled with ground beef, peas and a delicious brown gravy. The ground beef was hidden by mashed potatoes that were elegantly piped and lightly baked on top. I highly recommend the shepherd’s pie. I’ve heard good things about the bangers and mash (and, admittedly, choosing between the shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash was a difficult decision), so, really, you can’t go wrong with your entree choice at P.J. Horgan’s.
This St. Patrick’s Day, take the 7 over to Sunnyside for some traditional Irish fare. If you don’t make it to P.J. Horgan’s, or it’s overflowing with people, you have a bevy of Irish pubs to choose from: Molly Blooms (has food), the Kettle (has food), The Courtyard, Maggie Mae’s, The Gaslight, Donovan’s (in Woodside, has food) and many others.
4217 Queens Blvd. (between 42nd and 43rd streets)
Take the 7 to 40th Street. Walk east a few blocks. It’s on the north side of Queens Blvd.