When I used to work for my old company out in St. Peters, MO up to 2002, one of the places my ex-boss liked to take us to for a casual lunch or dinner was McGurk's Public House in downtown O'Fallon, MO (see map). Whether it was for a good sandwich or a nice meal, McGurk's Public House was sort of the defacto place to go since it was relatively close to my ex-boss' house in O'Fallon.
McGurk's Public House is closely related to John D. McGurk's Irish Pub and Garden in Soulard, one of the most authentic Irish pub's I've ever visited in the United States. Patrick Holloran, the son of McGurk's founder Jim Holloran, teamed up with Matthew McGuire, who was the principal owner of the former King Louie's restaurant on Chouteau Ave. in St. Louis, to open McGurk's about 11 years ago out in O'Fallon. The building that houses McGurk's Public House on S. Main in O'Fallon has been a watering hole for years and years. Holloran and McGuire fixed up the old building and put in an outdoor seating area out back, similar to the garden area at McGurk's Irish Pub.
It was a lovely Friday afternoon when I stopped into McGurk's Public House for a quick bite before heading back home. The outdoor seating area was packed with people enjoying the early spring sunshine and there was going to be a short wait if I wanted to sit out there. I decided not to wait and took a seat at the ornate bar at the very front of the restaurant. I looked over a menu knowing that I was probably going to get the reuben sandwich - always one of my favorites at McGurk's Public House - but wanted to remind myself of what else they had to offer.
My trip to McGurk's brought back a lot of fun memories of my time working for the company out of St. Peters. I'll never forget the night that we were having dinner there before Christmas and I had forgotten the Christmas present back in the Quad Cities that the company employees had all chipped in on to get for my ex-boss. My wife dutifully drove all the way back to the Quad Cities - four hours each way - to retrieve the present, an etched-stone decorative rock that was made special for the entrance to his home in O'Fallon.
Everyone knew that she had gone back for it, except my boss, and they were all doing their best to keep him out of the loop when he kept asking where my wife was, considering she brought me to the office earlier in the day and had come in to say "Hi" to everyone. She finally showed up at McGurk's Public House to a chorus of cheers and wild clapping from my former colleagues, everyone overly appreciative of the effort she did in being on the road over 8 hours that day to retrieve the present that I forgot to pack in the trunk. Even though we didn't give the present to my boss until two days later, my wife was "Queen for a Day" that night with everyone. We had a great time and a LOT of drinks at McGurk's Public House that evening.
And even though it had been a number of years since I was last in McGurk's Public House, I do remember the food being pretty good. I remember a very good rib-eye served at McGurk's, topped with their homemade steak butter. They also had a wonderful grilled Iowa pork chop that was served with a side of smoked bacon and gruyere cheese au gratin potato dish that was just out of sight. And from looking at the menu, I remember that they had a very good wedge salad that was unbelievably great for the price - $3.95 - that was a nice sized wedge served with Maytag Blue Cheese. I thought to myself that I needed to come back to McGurk's for dinner at some point.
But I was there for lunch and wasn't looking for a huge meal. While the McGurk Burger is pretty good - especially with Swiss cheese and bacon added - and the Dubliner sandwich (roasted pork with white cheddar cheese and Guinness braised onions) is also very good, I went with what I remembered to be one of the best reuben sandwiches I've had at a restaurant. I got a side of McGurk's onion rings to go along with it. I enjoyed a Smithwick's (or two) along with my lunch.
A waitress brought my sandwich out and I was ready to eat. The corned beef was cut thick and the Swiss cheese and sauerkraut was slathered on top. I like to order an extra side of 1000 Island dressing to dip my sandwich into. Honey mustard dressing was also served on the side to dip the onion rings into.
As I remembered, McGurk's Public House reuben sandwich was just outstanding. It was almost too much food as I couldn't finish the last couple bites of the sandwich and left a good portion of the onion rings on the plate. The corned beef was tender and flavorful, and the homemade swirled rye bread was just wonderful. It truly is one of the most outstanding reuben sandwiches I've ever had.
It had been too long since I'd been back to McGurk's Public House in O'Fallon. I don't get out that way all that much any longer, but I may have to make a special trip for dinner at some point. If you're out in St. Charles County and want a good meal at a good Irish bar, it's tough to beat McGurk's Public House.