Kansas City has an Irish problem. Well, maybe “problem” is a strong term, but for a city that celebrates its Gaelic members so vigorously either at the autumnal Irish Fest or March’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade (and ensuing hooliganism), we have precious little representation in the dining scene. Browne’s and O’Dowd’s have been representing for decades, but new blood is always a good thing.
New blood is what we have in the case of Brady’s Public House, the newest Irish pub named for its chef and part owner, Shaun Brady. Brady, born in a small town in Tipperary, is the real deal, a man that knows how fish and chips are supposed to taste, that a pie isn’t always sweet, and that salmon is more Irish than corned beef. And with tenure as executive chef at the Ambassador Hotel, he has the skills to make sure that the cuisine stays true
to its inspiration.
For those that live in the Midtown/UMKC/Rockhill area, the building that once held Mike’s Tavern at 5454 Troost, a homey dive with live music, has been completely refreshed. The walls have been refinished in burnt wood slats and exposed brick. The bar shines with a wall of nearly 40 Irish whiskeys alone, along with a full bar. Brady’s is a place where you can comfortably sidle up to the bar and likely make a new friend in the process.
Of course, a good selection of Irish whiskey may be a foregone conclusion for an Irish pub. Bar manager Ryan Rafferty’s menu features local and imported drafts, including Guinness, Murphy’s Irish Stout, and Smithwicks. The bar menu also includes cocktails, both classics and new creations featuring J. Rieger Whiskey and Restless Spirits. The Gas ‘N’ da Van blends both brands with Restless Spirits Stonebreaker Whiskey, J. Rieger Whiskey, J. Rieger Caffe Amaro, chocolate bitters and a dash of cinnamon for a tipple that is smooth and strong at the same time.
While Mike’s always had its charms, it can’t hold a candle to the scratch creations that Brady is pushing. And it’s not just an Irishification of standard American bar food either. Want an Irish sausage roll? You got it, with house-made pork sausage seasoned with sage and stone-ground mustard enveloped in a light puff pastry.
And while you may joke about the Irish and potatoes, Brady’s hand-cut curried fries with lime and curry aioli disappeared as quickly as they arrived at my table. The spice was light but noticeable, and the lime and curry aioli is a fitting condiment for nearly anything.
It was the Scotch egg that stole the show, however. Scotch eggs are an often misunderstood bar snack—they have all sorts of great elements (fried, breaded, sausage, egg, what’s not to love?) but the execution is sometimes lacking. In this case, Brady starts with a six-minute egg with an oozing-but-not-runny yolk. After enrobing the egg in the house-made pork sausage, he breads it using crispy panko breadcrumbs and then deep-fries it. Served with a small salad and a bit of Colman’s mustard, it’s the perfect marriage of soft and crisp and could serve as a light meal on its own.
If you’re looking for more substantial Irish fare, you’ve plenty to choose from. On the pie menu, the classics are all there: Steak and Guinness, the Fisherman, traditional cottage and a vegetarian. Instead of fully covering the stew in the steak and fish versions, Brady tops each rarebit with a hefty square of puff pastry so that you can see the rich slurry of braised fork-tender steak, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms in Guinness sauce. It’s comfort food at its finest and the perfect warm-up in the bleak Missouri winter.
But really, you came for the fish and chips, right? Of course you did. Brady himself is quick to point out that he has patrons drive from Lawrence weekly just to order his version, so authentic are they. And it’s easy to see why. The flaky white fish is beer-battered and fried along with perfect hand-cut fries, slaw, and mushy peas. My husband, who is suspicious of most fish dishes in the middle of the country, only shared a bite before he inhaled the rest. The texture, which is really the crux of good fish, was bang-on—light but with a significant crunch when bitten into. Pro-tip: If you ask politely, they will dust the fries with the curry spice.
Brady’s also offers several sandwiches and entrees. The Irish whiskey-cured Salmon BLT was a good choice. Although the whiskey cure was more insinuated than tasted, it was still a generous portion of salmon with bacon, lettuce, tomato and sundried tomato aioli on Grains Galore bread. Although the fish may seem like the lighter choice, I could still only make it through one half of the sandwich after demolishing the fries, potato chips or slaw that comes along with it.
There are several steaks available as well as mussels and a corned beef hash, which makes an appearance on the Saturday brunch menu. Lamb will be a special on offer occasionally as Brady says that it is more popular with those that have lived in Europe or Ireland than with the locals.
While Brady steers the savory portion of the menu, he’s quick to give sous chef Graham Farris credit for the dessert menu. Farris deserves praise. There are some classics available, such as the Banoffee pie (vanilla cream topped with banana, house toffee, toasted almonds and chocolate sauce) and the Brady’s Cinnamon Apple Bread pudding topped with warm Bailey’s cream sauce.
The standout winner was the pie of the day, an Irish coffee pie. Named for the drink, it started with a coffee-infused egg custard filling topped with white-chocolate Bailey’s mousse. The hint of coffee in the custard turned an overly sweet concoction into a nuanced, melt-in-your-mouth delight. Although it was the pie of the moment, I hope it finds a home on the permanent menu.
The permanent menu is evolving but the classics—pies, fish and chips, and Scotch eggs—have already earned their place on the menu. Brady’s opened in August, and he’s finding his stride. Service was prompt and friendly, and the vibe is decidedly low-key. Brady’s captures the essence of what a public house is supposed to be—a place where all can gather for food and drinks, from families to those looking to make a friend of the bartender. Good food brings people together, and Brady’s is happy to be the location for the meet.
Tuesday–Saturday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Happy hour: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.