DARIEN, Conn. -- When Center Street Public House opened in Darien last month, it offered restaurant-goers something new and different in town. Owner Tom Lynch calls it “an American pub with a strong Irish influence,” a perfect fit for a community with deep Gaelic roots.
“I did some research before opening and found that over 65 percent of the people in Darien have English or Irish heritage,’’ said Lynch, a Rowayton resident who also works at Colangelo in Darien. “It’s meant to reflect that. When I found out the numbers, I was surprised just how deep the connection is. There is also a tremendous ex-pat community in Darien.”
Lynch reached back to the past to bring back Dave Johnson, who owned the restaurant when it was called Backstreet not too long ago. Johnson had sold the restaurant, but Lynch coaxed him out of “retirement” to run the kitchen and manage at the Pub. Dave’s wife, Cheryl, also signed on to bring the Pub to life.
“Dave brought out the life from a culinary standpoint,’’ Lynch said. “The menu is a nice balance between Irish, British and American pub fares. He definitely tapped into his inner Irishman.”
The menu features traditional Irish fare such as Shepherd’s Pie, Fish and Chips and Guinness Beef Stew. There are also some nice surprises, such as Fried Baloney Sandwich, Roasted Veggie Wrap, Stuffed Brook Trout and a Mixed Grill entree with lamb, sirloin, bacon and sausage.
“I thought that if everything tastes half as good as it sounds, it’s going to be fantastic,’’ Lynch said, “and everything tastes even better than it sounds.”
The atmosphere and drink selection add to the uniqueness of the restaurant. Unlike many other establishments in town, the Center Street Public House will be refreshingly casual. The restaurant will show a variety of sporting events on its televisions. “We’ll show football, baseball, soccer, rugby, golf, cricket, hockey and basketball,” Lynch said. “The more I think about it, we might need more TVs.”
The restaurant will be the first for Lynch, who said he has been considering owning a pub for several years.
“It felt like a lot of stars aligning,’’ Lynch said. “I looked at other spaces, but they were too big, or they were in Stamford or Norwalk and it was just too far. It’s a small place, which makes it more manageable. I like the size for what the purpose of a pub is – an intimate place to get together with friends and family.”
Center Street Pub has a deep array of wines and beers, but it will be a particular favorite for Guinness lovers. “All our bartenders have been trained in how to properly pour Guinness,’’ Lynch said. “There’s a way to do it, and they’ve all learned how. A proper pint is the hallmark of any good pub.”
Lynch said the restaurant has been well-received, even in the typically slow summer season. “People are excited about it,’’ Lynch said. “Some of them grew up here, some are new. It’s been a nice balance, and having ties to the community has been a big help. We hope the momentum continues during the fall.”