Our Gourmet: Dinner is a winner at Derry's Halligan

March 07. 2017 11:13PM

The Halligan Tavern
32 W. Broadway, Derry; 965-3490; www.thehalligantavern.com
Hours: Seven days, noon to midnight.
Cuisine: American.
Dinner pricing: Apps $6.99-$9.99; entrée salads $5.99-$12.99 (side salads $3.99); Pizza: $8.99-$11.99; Entrees: $9.99-$17.99.
Scores for Halligan
Atmosphere: 18/20
Menu: 18/20
Food: 19/20
Service: 18/20
Value: 18/20
TOTAL: 91/100

Two weeks before St. Patrick’s Day and the official wearin’ o’ the green, the Halligan Tavern on West Broadway in Derry seemed nearly fully festooned for March’s bit of madness.

Green carnations were on every table and Guinness shamrocks adorned all the brick walls of the century-old former firehouse. Patrons and waitstaff were discussing the merits of corned beef and cabbage dinners, and it’s our guess that the Halligan Reuben house specialty sandwich is in demand year round.

On a busy weeknight last week, we had a quick, satisfying and inexpensive meal on our minds — but not just pub food — and we couldn’t have picked a better local spot. The Halligan is well known for its popular lounge and its burgers, boisterous sandwich menu, all beef (no beans) Firehouse Chili and gourmet pizza, but we had never dined in the dining room and ordered a traditional dinner.

Now that we have, we would recommend the dinner menu over the pub and burger/sandwich routine.

It is a comfortable establishment, brick inside and out, with wood-paneled ceilings with fans and indirect track lighting that’s on the mellow side. Black iron railings separate rooms and the tops of some walls above you, and the smart window treatments fronting Broadway are designed to isolate Halligan’s interior from that busy thoroughfare. It is well done, and feels worlds away from two busy lanes of traffic not two dozen feet outside the window.

Cool pub decorations are everywhere along the black wood beams and brick archways, and there are half a dozen or so large-screen TVs spread throughout the bar and the dining room, so sports are a priority here. Still, the dining room is effectively separated by brick walls from the bar, which is active.

We sat at a high-top window table and enjoyed a beer from the lengthy bottled and on-tap list, and ordered a salad to share and two plates of comfort food to get us smoothly toward the end of the week.

They were substantial dinners and well worth the asking price.

We weren’t in the mood for a great big salad, and the Side Caesar ($3.99) was just right. Simply prepared, this was a plateful of freshly prepared and chilled romaine tossed with a light creamy Caesar dressing, with croutons and grated Parmesan cheese. Although considered a side, and bargain-priced, it was easily large enough to stand alone when a huge meal is not desired.

We were very pleased with our entree choices.

My dining companion’s Lobster and Crab Ravioli ($16.99) was a dish of tasty seafood and pasta swimming in an over-the-top-delicious white wine tomato cream sauce. Sauteed shrimp were distributed throughout this large portion of hearty crab and lobster meat raviolis, which covered the plate and left plenty for leftovers. This was a meal that was tasty, filling, hot and delicious on a cold night.

I ordered the top-of-the-menu Tavern Favorite — Certified Angus Beef Sirloin ($17.99), a steak dinner that, again, was right on the money.

A large sirloin steak, nicely marbled and grilled medium-rare, came out sizzling hot with a great serving of mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans. Atop the juicy steak was a medium-large tab of butter, which melted and dripped into the bite-sized slices I prepared as I went along. If it wasn’t a pound of steak, it was close. I just kept slicing and eating. Certified Angus Beef carries a trademark on some menus, and this one was especially good — as fully satisfying a steak dinner as I have had at twice the price at over-proud steak houses.

The potatoes were also very well prepared, with bits of red skin and seasonings mixed in, and they went quite nicely with the well-sauteed and lightly dressed green beans. There were no leftovers from my side of the table this night, but we shared bites of each entree, and both of us thought that next time we might order what the other had ordered.

All told, we enjoyed two full, delicious gourmet meals, and a salad, for just over $60, including two beers and a nice tip for Danielle, our attentive and friendly waitress, who never seemed to hover but was always right there when we wanted or needed anything.

We don’t know which side of Halligan’s is more popular, the lounge side or the dinner side, but our weeknight meal in the dining room was warmly pleasing and a surprisingly good value. It also gave us an entirely new take on Derry’s best pub.

Our GourmetDerry

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