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Thursday, June 17,2010

Cup at Conorís

By Clay Fong

Unfortunately, pretty much everything I know about World Cup soccer comes from the mid-’90s pinball machine of the same name. I know that teams from around the world are involved and someone enthusiastically yells out “goal” in an elongated manner whenever points are scored. Also, the mid-’90s mascot of the event looked a lot like Underdog on Jenny Craig.

I also know that the event commands an unparalleled amount of fanaticism amongst people who appear fairly normal in the years between competitions. Case in point is an otherwise reasonable-appearing British friend who vows to get up at the crack of dawn to catch as many matches as he can at Boulder’s Conor O’Neills before the last event on July 11.

Conor O’Neill’s
1922 13th St. Boulder 303-449-1922

Anticipating this soccer fest, I decided to pay a lunchtime visit with friend Kathleen to this Celtic-fashioned pub. The interior here is endearingly lived-in, with a well-worn retro feel. Kathleen noted that the slightly sticky qualities of the tables lent an additional layer of authenticity. For my part, I half expected James Mason’s IRA gunman on the lam from the film Odd Man Out to dart out of a back room.

The menu is a blend of traditional pub grub and breakfasts (which will be available during the early morning matches) as well as more contemporary sandwiches and small plates. Entrees top out at $11.99 and include fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage, and pot pies. Sandwiches include standard-issue clubs and Reubens, while the small plates offer sophisticated tastes of seared tuna and roasted piquillo peppers.

Kathleen and I started with two of the starters, the first being the $3 beerbattered onion rings. In this instance, the beer flavor was pleasantly pronounced and the portion was ample for the price. A bit more crispness would have benefited the batter, and Kathleen felt this snack would have been enhanced by the use of Vidalia sweet onion. A delicate dill dip was a welcome change from clichéd Ranch dressing, and it distinguished these finger foods from their fast-food brethren.

Next up was another $3 appetizer, the geographically incongruous Thai shrimp skewer. Despite this dish’s distance from the Emerald Isle, these red curry-marinated shellfish were finely executed, carrying a subtle aroma of lemongrass as well as remarkably fresh flavor and texture. A dollop of jasmine rice added heft to the plate, and further contributed to the preparation’s visual appeal.

My friend had been raised on Shepherd’s Pie, and it’s not surprising she ordered the $10.99 version available here. While she wished for more lamb and something other than canned peas in this dish, she did laud its appearance, enhanced by a hefty serving of attractively piped and substantial mashed potatoes. She appreciated this starch’s flavor, although she was less enamored of the tomato-based sauce that deviated from the gravy of her youth.

The main virtue of my entree of my $9.99 bangers and mash was its formidable heft. There wasn’t anything unexpected about the brown gravy that covered the generous portion of mildly seasoned Irish sausages. Once again, the mashers brought an element of pleasing richness that will leave most diners full before completely clearing their plate. Neither of our entrees were fancy, although reasonable pricing and heartiness made them thoroughly suitable accompaniments to a formidable athletic contest, the World Cup.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com


Clay’s Obscurity Corner Odd Man Out Arguably, director Carol Reed’s 1947 classic film noir Odd Man Out can be cited as an influence on everything from Martin Scorsese’s After Hours to 24. While the Belfast locale and IRA affiliation of James Mason’s protagonist are never explicitly mentioned, it’s clear that Mason’s Johnny McQueen must evade the authorities after a botched robbery. As he goes on the run, he meets several eccentric characters in the Irish night, photographed in a style reminiscent of German Expressionism. Visually, and to a lesser extent, thematically, this film foreshadows my all-time favorite film, Reed’s 1949 The Third Man, starring Orson Welles.
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