2051 Wilson Blvd.
Arlington, VA 22201
CUISINE Irish/Welsh, Bar/Pub Grub, Beer Joints
PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily; weekend brunch.
NVM AWARDS None
NEARBY METRO Orange(Court House)
By Warren Rojas
Most weekends, you’ll find the jersey-clad masses pouring into Arlington’s heralded Four Courts hours before many surrounding business have even opened.
Such is the siren song of live English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and Fox soccer channel programming.
The longstanding pub first opened its doors in March 1996 and has cultivated a dedicated following ever since by feeding its entertainment-starved clientele a steady diet of global soccer matches and traditional folk music.
The management is strictly Irish-born, beginning with owner James Fagan (County Westmeath) and trickling down to general manager David Cahill (County Limerick) and shift manager John Kelly (County Cork).
According to Kelly, management makes a point of returning home regularly in search of new talent in order to help preserve the authenticity of their culturally focused restaurant. “We’ve gone to Ireland interviewing,” he said of their ongoing recruiting efforts, adding, “It’s nice for people who come in here.”
Likewise, Kelly said the pub prides itself on broadcasting as many live soccer contests as possible—adding that they often record early morning matches (particularly the 7:30 a.m. games on Saturday mornings) and then replay them for late risers.
“Whenever there’s a soccer game we can show, we put it on,” he noted.
The expansive restaurant is split into two areas, the non-smoking James Joyce bar typically used for family dining or special events and the come-as-you-are main bar, which houses the hordes of crazed futbol fans who seem to swear at the TVs no matter how their home club fares from week to week.
The entire restaurant appears to be constructed from nothing but multi-colored shades of polished hardwoods. A small stage is home for the near-nightly musical acts presented. And it’s not at all uncommon to spot kilt-wearing gentlemen enjoying a leisurely meal with family and friends on weekend afternoons.
Elsewhere, row after row of shiny pewter mugs dangling above the bar remind you this is first and foremost a place to come and imbibe. Kelly estimates they’ve sold roughly 1,400 since opening. New members must fill out an application and pay a one-time $70 fee for the keepsake vessel and unadvertised specials bestowed upon mug bearers.
Pints of Guinness, Harp, Magners cider, Smithwick’s and the Four Courts amber ale home brew are available on tap. Select whiskeys include: Tullamore Dew, Bushmills and Jameson, as well as scotches like Laphroaig, Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie and Dalmore.
Authentic Irish cuisine can also be had, although some standards prove better than others.
The traditional Irish breakfast uncovers the best bangers of the bunch (sweet and savory pork links), flanked by the requisite eggs, rashers, mixed puddings (very good, as well) and roasted tomatoes. The lamb stew summons a simmering banquet of carrots, potatoes, onions and succulent lamb (quite satisfying). Shepherd’s pie is merely adequate, revealing a seasoned ground meat and carrots mix capped with a half-inch of mashed potato fluff.