Dining Out: Don't expect 'just a pub' at McGirk's

By Dave Greber
By Howard Manges

February 12, 2014 Updated Mar 7, 2014 at 2:44 PM EST

Chenango Bridge, N.Y. (WBNG Binghamton) McGirk's Irish Pub is exactly what you'd expect, so long as you expect a warm, rich dining environment, a renown and diverse bar selection and food that easily measures itself among some of the best restaurants around.

The flavors at McGirk's, located near the intersection of River and Kattelville roads in Chenango Bridge, range from authentic Irish to American pub fare to healthy offerings -- not what comes to mind when you walk into a bar and order food.

But this joint offers so much more than a cold beverage, and people have caught on.

"It makes me feel great," said McGirk's owner Tim Ward. "When we first started out, we were doing pretty well at it. But now we're at a point where we had to hire a host and hostess to seat people. We have people standing in line waiting to eat, which is a fabulous thing."

But it hasn't happened without a clear vision from Ward, who's eclectic style shows up in the dishes, the decor and the wide variety of talent that take to the McGirk's stage every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

"The food is probably the biggest part of it," Ward said. "No. 1, we've created a really fun environment, a really safe environment here, and the food, we've changed over from being standard restaurant fare to all fresh-to-order foods."

McGirk's also offers one of the biggest brown liquor selections in upstate New York, with nearly 40 bourbons, more than 40 single-malt scotches and another 30 brands of Irish whiskey.

While you might notice the bar and its wide selection -- where the perfect pint of Guinness is poured every time -- it won't be long before you pick up a menu.

"What they've done is they've taken the normal pub fare and upgraded it to a gourmet pub food, just the tastes the ingredients and everything they put into just brings it that one step above. I'd say we're above a lot of the other places, but we're just below fine dining. We're right in the middle of all that, which makes us unique."