Restaurant Review #141: Finn McCool's, Santa Monica

Bar food.

Every time I told someone in our group that my food wasn't that great, their response was a shrug and "bar food." Is there a reason why food at bars can't be good? True, if patrons are sloshed, the merits of a great sandwich may be lost on them. True, good cooks and good chefs cost more. True, people don't expect to pay a lot for the food that accompanies their beer.

But none of these reasons really explain why I can't enjoy an ice cold hefeweizen and delicious food simultaneously. The majority of a bar's patrons at any given time are probably not too hammered to taste their food. Good talent can be hired cheaply if it's young enough. And good food doesn't have to cost a lot.

So when a bar bothers to have an interesting menu, you might have high expectations of the food. But at Finn McCool's, you're likely to be disappointed.

Fried calamari appetizer

The calamari were actually just fine--what they needed was a good dipping sauce. They came with cocktail sauce--you know, that weirdly sweet and tangy ketchup imposter that often comes with seafood but which no one ever eats.

Corned beef sandwich

The corned beef sandwich was described as "lean thinly sliced corned beef, lettuce, tomato & onion." The meat was neither lean nor thinly sliced--in fact, I was grossed out by how fatty it was and didn't finish my sandwich. Also, the menu fails to mention the flavored mayo on the bread--it wasn't a problem for me, but some people really hate mayo or like to avoid it for health reasons. The sandwich was very messy, with ingredients sliding everywhere and sauce and grease getting all over my hands. The first few bites were tasty, but that was all I could take. The fries were on the mushy side.

In addition to the blah food, we ordered a Pyramid hefeweizen and a cider. Neither was very cold, which meant that they also weren't very fizzy, since higher temperatures adversely affect carbonation. For an Irish pub, the beer list was awfully short and generic. Stick to Guinness, if you like it.

At 7:00 on a Thursday, the bar was nearly empty, and happy hour had just ended, too (happy hour is from 1:00-7:00pm). By 9:00, it was starting to fill up with pre-weekend partiers.

Our waitress was clearly having a bad day, so our service left a lot to be desired. I have a lot of sympathy for people who work in bars though, so I tried not to hold it against her.

Parking in the back can be difficult, but is usually possible--just make sure you bring plenty of quarters because this is a metered lot. The meters have a 3 hour max, so if you plan to be out longer, don't forget to run back to your car.

The service was bad, the beer wasn't cold, and the food was sub-par. Overall, I was not happy with my experience and felt that it was a real waste of $43--all that bought us was one drink each, one appetizer to share, one entree to share, and parking. If you've been to Finn McCool's, how was your experience? Leave a comment!

Park in back--Finn's is the yellow building

Finn McCool's
2702 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Website (with menu)


Anonymous said...

I'd have to agree - sucky drinks, food and service. Doesn't get much worse for a dinner out, now does it? How does this dump stay in business anyway?

commercesd said...

I couldn't disagree more. I live in the neighborhood but rarely frequent restaurants. However, my first visit was awesome. On a Sunday afternoon, the waiter was attentive, smart and funny. He was honest about the best dishes. We ordered Irish fare: a "boxy" or some such which was kind of like a crepe stuffed with food. Fantastic! Highly recommend the sampler, which has 3 different dishes. My second visit - I had one of the best burgers and fries I've ever had. The service was superb, despite the fact that it was very busy on a Friday nite.