Paint my beard red and call me Patrick. If you asked me a year ago what I thought of Irish Pubs, I would have told you that it’s a cheap gimmick, forcing unsuspecting tourists to pay an extra three dollars for low quality bar food and an extra dollar per beer. And why pay extra? So we can stare at neon Guinness signs, sit on an uncomfortable piece of wood, and watch a red haired bartender (probably named Tidwell or Johnny Cakes) serve old people beer. But today, I am going to have to call a Roman Catholic Church and hand over my license to eat potatoes as penance, because Trali’s, located right by Brier Creek in Cary, makes me happy as a Leprechaun.
My girlfriend and I double date, as most couples are want to, but I hate double dating because it means that I have to surrender my natural instincts for where I want to eat that night to a couple who probably have the worst food palates in human history and certainly don’t share my affinity for big flavors and large portions. Picking an Irish Pub for a double date is a nifty idea it says the emphasis won’t be on food or table manners, the night may get boozy, and I don’t have to worry about ordering a salad to fit in, all good things. Our order was about as dull as it could be: a burger, chicken pot pie, fish and chips, and, regardless of my previous statement, one salad was still ordered, but I tried everything else and it was all pretty good.
The chicken pot pie was about as wide as my chest and it was an exercise to finish, don’t worry, I managed it, but it was close race. My friend’s burger would laugh at the idea of a toothpick holding any part of it together and should instead come mandatory with a machete in the center of it. And I’ve never been too impressed with fish and chips and, unfortunately, ditto here, but the slaw was good. My chicken pot pie was impressive and I definitely wanted to add Trali to my dinner rotation. Since then I have had shepherds pie, which is serviceably tasty (and as big as the pot pie), a black bean burger (which I came close to sending back, it wasn’t very good), a reuban (which came from the poor side of town), but the last time that I visited I had boxty, which is a potato pancake served with a flavorful white sauce over it that reminds me of a creamy leak chowder (if you order the shrimp anyway) and it was close to being excellent! The boxty (potato pancake) itself was very bland, which wouldn’t be a problem if it weren’t so thick. And being bland serves a tasty mystery: How does a combination of potatoes, bacon, and onion turn out bland? At least the sauce was present enough to where I was never close to complaining.
So I cannot give Trali my highest recommend, still there are some great things going on: cool atmosphere, great outdoor seating, and a daily selection of $3 draft specials never hurts and their $3 draft is not for a single beer, but rather 3 or 4, giving you more variety than most specials. A recurring problem is that the wait staff is noticeably absent at times and there may be a lot of food on the plate, but it needs just a few flavor adjustments so that the star of the evening is taste and not portion. Is Trali a good place to watch a game? Sure. A great place for a date, even a double date? I say no. No matter what you order you will leave too full to do much else after eating and that’s if you take leftovers.
Taste/Variety = above average
Portions = mid high
Price = extremely fair
Service = hit and miss (more miss)
Atmosphere = boring pub
Total Value = above average