6131 Backlick Road
Springfield, VA 22150
CUISINE Irish/Welsh, Bar/Pub Grub, Comfort Food
PRICE Under $12
HOURS Open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily.
NVM AWARDS None
NEARBY METRO None
For Shame(March 2008)
By Warren Rojas
Kate’s may be a popular neighborhood hangout, but the consensus among my seasoned advisors was that it’s significantly less Irish than I am.
Owner Michael Mooney said he opened the original Kate’s (a family name carried by both his grandmother and his daughter) just a few blocks away in 1996, before moving to his current location in 2000.
Mooney suggested he’s traced his lineage back to the early Massachusetts colonists, but remains a little fuzzy on whereabouts from which they may have started in Ireland. “Somewhere out of Cork, maybe,” was the best he could muster.
My Irish consultants found the decor laughable (the inflatable Bud Light shamrocks were actually deemed “mildly offensive”), pegging the comparison between it and other local pubs “like oil and water.”
Still, the place remains busy through what appears to be a combination of catch-all cooking—the menu bounces from pork barbecue sandwiches and fettuccine alfredo to jambalaya and blackened chicken with Caribbean rice—and varied entertainment (darts, televised sporting events and drink specials seem popular).
According to Mooney, weekend bands remain a strong draw, though he noted they now book a diversity of music (funk, rock, open mike) rather than sticking with traditional folk acts.
“We used to do the Irish music all the time,” he said, estimating that both management and the patrons seemed ready to move in other directions. Irish bands, however, still appear once or twice per month.
Respectable Irish cooking, on the other hand, appears never to be featured.
A basket of so-called Irish chips emerges as warm, hand-cut potato chips. (Not sure why these qualify as Irish. And shouldn’t they at least be homemade?) On the upside, they were perfectly edible. A woefully spartan beef stew had minimal amounts of actual beef and a surplus of peas and carrots (vegetable soup by any other name).
Meanwhile, the terribly underdone shepherd’s pie should be put out to pasture. This cultural affront reveals another helping of the tragic beef stew smothered with a brick of mashed potatoes (no semblance of a baked-on crust or anything).
All the booze in the world couldn’t salvage any of the meals we suffered through here. But for those who wish to try, there’s Bass, Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s on tap, while available whiskeys include Jameson, original Bushmills and Tullamore Dew.