At the Celt, on relatively under- traversed Magnolia Avenue right next door to the Harp, the feeling is one of hopeful optimism. While not seeing the response that they had originally anticipated (due to the condo fallout), things are starting to pick up. When I asked Jimmy Mulvaney why he was returning to downtown to add two properties to his already successful Claddagh Cottage, he said, “It was time to do something downtown again.”
The bar is filled with beautiful woodwork, hand-restored for the most part by Mulvaney, and there is also an iron staircase that will one day lead up to a mezzanine overlooking the bar, if luck and the city cooperate. They did have a bit of luck when the only piece of plaster that wouldn’t come off to expose the brick found a second life as the giant map of Ireland that graces one wall.
The Celt is still trying to find its crowd and during the week is sparsely populated by a smattering of businessmen, college kids and conventioneers. Fridays and Saturdays, though, the place is packed and features music from jazz to covers to more traditional Irish tunes. The menu at the Celt is virtually identical to the one at the Cottage, featuring cottage pie ($10.25), pleasantly salty corned beef sandwiches ($6.95) and liquor-laden desserts. Thick, flavorful roast beef with sautéed onions and Swiss cheese is featured on the Dubliner sandwich ($7.25); it’s messy, but it’s excellent morning-after food. Open two months on the 14th of October, the Celt still doesn’t have a consistent following, but with the Irish Breakfast on Sundays picking up, it’s worth the detour off Orange Avenue.