A few weeks ago, there was a high-end audio show held at a Doubletree Hotel in Rosemont, IL, a suburb of Chicago next to O'Hare Airport. Rosemont is sort of a convention city with the large Donald E. Stephens Convention Center and a number of large hotels in the area. They've also built an entertainment district that has a number of night spots, a large movie theater and some restaurants. After unpacking some of our products for the day, my colleague, John, who had flown in for the show, and I decided to go out and get some dinner. We ended up at an Irish pub - the Five Roses Pub. (see map)
Former Mayor Donald Stephens built somewhat of a small kingdom during his 50+ year run as Rosemont's first mayor. Stephens was the president of a homeowners association when they voted to incorporate Rosemont as a city in 1956. Stephens was elected the first mayor and re-elected an unprecedented 13 times before he passed away in 2007. (His son, Bradley, succeeded him as mayor.) The city grew from a population of 85 in 1956 to over 4,000 people with the bulk of Stephens work going into the convention center that bears his name, the Rosemont Theater and the Allstate Arena (formerly the Rosemont Horizon). City taxes that are paid by guests in hotels and for use of the convention facilities puts tens of millions of dollars in the coffers of Rosemont each year.
Boston-area entrepreneur and entertainment czar, Patrick Lyons, is the man behind the Five Roses Pub, the first business to open in what is known as the Park at Rosemont. Working with Bradley Stephens and other village officials, he named his Irish pub Five Roses in deference to Donald Stephens over five decades as the town's mayor. (Lyons also owns the Kings Bowl bowling and entertainment facility at the Park in Rosemont, as well as a number of restaurants, bars and clubs in the greater Boston area.)
Actually, John and I tried to get into the new Hofbrauhaus, the newest of the United States franchises of the famed Hofbrauhaus in Munich. However, the large dining hall was about half full of people and there was a band in there that was pretty loud. It was late in the day, we were tired from the work at the show and we just wanted a quiet meal and some beer. We weren't going to get a quiet meal at the Hofbrauhaus. We had spotted Five Roses across the way and ventured over there instead.
They had live music in Five Roses that night - a troubadour playing guitar - and we asked to sit somewhere away from the music. The hostess put us at a table in the corner in the bar area and dropped off some menus. Later on, when the music started, it turned out that we were seated below a small P.A. speaker that blared the music from the young man singing and playing guitar. We sort of laughed at our misfortune, but soldiered on with the evening. Besides, it was nowhere as loud as the music at the Hofbrauhaus.
The interior of Five Roses is very reminiscent of an authentic Irish pub. In fact, all the woodwork was made in Northern Ireland and shipped over to Rosemont to be installed in the restaurant. It's quite obvious they spared no expense in making the interior of Five Roses appear to be one of the finest and authentic Irish pubs found anywhere. (Click here for more pictures of Five Roses interior.)
Five Roses Pub tries to capture the ambiance of an authentic Irish pub with having traditional Irish entrees on the menu. They featured items such as Irish stew with soda bread, fish and chips, sausage and mash with beans, and an authentic Irish breakfast - Irish bacon, white & black pudding, breakfast bangers, Batchelors baked beans, grilled tomato, fried eggs, toast & marmalade - that is served all day long.
After John got a Guinness and I grabbed a Smithwick's from our server, Haley, we ordered up some food. I didn't want anything heavy since it was well past 9 p.m. by that time and I didn't want it to sit in my stomach while I tried to sleep. I decided I was just going to get a sandwich and I was torn between the Irish dip sandwich - which is basically Five Roses answer to a French dip sandwich - and the corned beef sandwich. I decided on the corned beef sandwich. I got an order of chips (French fries) to go along with the meal. And I saw underneath the chips on the menu that they had a number of sauces or dips to go along with them. I ordered a side of brown gravy to go with the fries. Yes, I know. I said I didn't want anything heavy to lay in my stomach before I went to bed, but fries with gravy are SOOOOO good.
John ordered up one of Five Roses signature dishes - the Lansdowne Pie. It's sort of like a Shepherd's pie, only with made with chicken. John said, "It was either that or the Shepard's pie, but the Lansdowne pie with chicken sounded interesting.
Our food came out about 15 minutes after we ordered. We had finished our beers and got a couple more with our meals.
John's Lansdowne pie featured a large homemade bagel half that sat on top of the concoction in his bowl. He pulled the bagel off the top of the Lansdowne chicken pie for me to get a picture before he dug in. (Above right) It had chunks of chicken, potatoes and other vegetables in a creamy broth. Two thick half-slices of soda bread sat on the plate.
My corned beef sandwich came with toasted bread and an ample amount of corned beef. The chips were large steak-style fries that had a crispy outer shell, but a nice potato taste to the middle. The gravy was a nice little treat to dip the fries into. The corned beef sandwich was good, exactly what I was looking for to eat in a late day meal. But there's not a lot you can do to distinguish one corned beef sandwich from the next.
John said that his Lansdowne chicken pie was "fine." He said, "Honestly, I wasn't expecting much coming in to this place, but my meal is fine."
It does take a lot for me to have an authentic Irish pub literally knock my socks off when it comes to the quality and taste of food. I'd call the sandwich I had at Five Roses as average for an Irish-style pub. Our server, Haley, was pleasant and attentive, and you couldn't overlook the ornate interior of the place. John actually went back with our colleague, Todd, a couple nights later and he reported that his meal was pretty much the same as the night we were there. Not spectacular, but far from bad. (Todd told me the Guinness was flat as they were having trouble with air in their beer lines.) If you're looking for an Irish pub near O'Hare Airport, Five Roses Pub would be the place. The experience was OK - not great, but not bad.