To mix things up a bit, I've been staying at a new Hampton Inn in Mount Prospect on my recent trips into Chicago. Although it's not quite as convenient as the Hampton Inn in Addison in terms of getting there from anyplace around the Chicagoland area, it is close to my largest dealer, Abt Electronics. Plus, it's in the middle of the Randhurst Village Shopping Center and there's a number of newer and established places to eat in the immediate area. Arlington Heights is just down the road and they have a handful of interesting places to eat. I decided to try an Irish pub by the name of Peggy Kinnane's one evening.
Peggy Kinnane's opened in 2001 and is owned by Irish ex-patriot Derek Hanley. Hanley comes from a long line of pub owners. His grandfather, John Joe Kinnane, had been a noted goalie for an Irish football (soccer) team before he opened Setright's Pub in Cratloe, County Clare. John Joe's son - and Derek's father - Jack Hanley, was a band leader who played in many pubs across Ireland before he opened his own place in Templemore, County Tipperary. Jack Hanley married an Irish lass by the name of Peggy Kinnane, hence the name of Derek Hanley's establishment in Arlington Heights.
Derek Hanley (pictured right) came to the United States in 1985, settling first in New York City, then he moved up to Boston after a couple of years where he met his wife. Hanley and his wife moved to Los Angeles, then to Denver, then back to his home in Tipperary, before finally moving to Arlington Heights around the turn of the 21st century.
While Peggy Kinnane's is located in a revitalized area of downtown Arlington Heights (see map) the inside of the building is rather unique. The stone walls are all imported stone from County Clare in Ireland. The woodwork and the long curving bar were all constructed in Ireland and shipped to the United States. And all of the knick-knacks - known as bric-a-back in Ireland - on display on the walls and shelves of Peggy Kinnane's are all authentic items from Ireland, many items that were passed down through the family that were once on display in both his grandfather's and father's pubs. The only thing Americanized about Peggy Kinnane's is the modern brick facade on the side of the building that houses apartment/condos above the restaurant.
It was around 8 p.m. when I got into Peggy Kinnane's. A young hostess greeted me and asked me where I wanted to sit. She suggested the bar area, but it was a little busy in there and there wasn't much room at the bar. I looked around the corner at a table with a bench seat against the wall, but realized that I'd be the only one seated alone in the area. I wandered around with her before settling on a spot near the elongated end of the bar that had curved around into the dining area. She dropped off a menu and my bartender server for the evening - who went by the name of "Smith" - came over to greet me. I ordered up a Smithwick's and took a look through the menu.
I had been on the road for a couple days up to that point and I wasn't overly certain what I wanted to eat that evening. The menu at Peggy Kinnane's features a slew of appetizers, soups and salads, burgers and sandwiches, as well as Irish staples such as Shepherd's Pie, Irish Lamb Stew, fish and chips, and boxty - a thick potato pancake-like concoction that can be served with vegetables, grilled chicken, and/or seafood. I've had boxty once a number of years ago at a place in Minneapolis and I remember it as being good.
The menu is so extensive at Peggy Kinnane's I was having a tough time trying to figure out what to get. I was hungry, but I really didn't know what I was hungry for. I was thinking about getting one of their burgers - the "Ulster" featured Swiss cheese, bacon and sauteed mushrooms with their "Emerald Isle" sauce (basically 1000 Island dressing. But I didn't know if I wanted to try a burger that evening. The reuben looked inviting, as did their cold-served corned beef sandwich. But, once again, I wasn't overly certain I just wanted a sandwich. The Shepherd's Pie and the boxty with a sauteed chicken breast, mushrooms, tomatoes, and scallions in a white wine cream sauce both sounded good, but it also sounded too rich for my stomach that evening. I was in a quandary and decided to hold off and have a couple beers before I ordered up my meal.
After about a half hour of trying to figure out what I wanted, I got Smith's attention and ordered up the Peggy Kinnane's meat loaf - a piece of meat loaf slathered in a Jameson whisky glaze sauce, grilled lightly and then topped with a mushroom gravy. It also came with a side of mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. When he brought it to me, I knew there would be no way I'd be able to finish off the whole meal. The meat loaf was a large slab over a half-inch thick topped with the mushroom gravy. The vegetable medley featured an abundant amount of sliced carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. The mashed potatoes were just a scoop off to the side.
The meat loaf was all right - it had an OK flavor to it and I would have liked to have had more of the mushroom gravy on the top, but it was fine. The potatoes were rather pedestrian as I only had a couple small bites of those. However, the vegetable medley was very fresh and cooked perfectly. They weren't mushy, nor had the taste been cooked out of them. Whoever cooked the vegetables at Peggy Kinnane's knew exactly what they were doing.
I left about a quarter of the meat loaf, nearly all of the potatoes and a smattering of sliced carrots on my plate. Smith asked me if I wanted to have it wrapped up, but, no, there was no way I'd eat this as a leftover even if I were taking it home with me.
After I finished up paying my bill, I took a walk around Peggy Kinnane's just to see the place. There's a nice little backroom near the restrooms that featured a fireplace and a nice place to hang. The dining area was rather spacious and they also had an outdoor seating area. It had a great feeling to the place. It definitely wasn't the type of place where someone put up a couple Irish flags and called the bar an authentic Irish pub.
As I said earlier, the bar snaked around the north and west sides of Peggy Kinnane's. The woodwork and stonework throughout the place were elegant and impressive. I got the two pictures above off of Peggy Kinnane's web site because the pictures I tried to take inside the low-lit restaurant didn't turn out very well from my phone camera.
I thought my food was pretty good at Peggy Kinnane's, but like corned beef and cabbage it's tough to add pizazz to meat loaf. I did think the food was rather high in price - $15.95 for a meat loaf platter. (Burgers were a minimum of 10 bucks and other menu items seemed to be rather high priced, as well.) But Smith provided good service for me and I really had little to no complaints about the place. Peggy Kinnane's is a unique experience and one that I'm glad I found in Arlington Heights.