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Porn-Star Sausage

Life is good at the Auld Dubliner

If there's one thing the Protestants and Catholics in Ireland can agree on, it's Guinness. More food than drink, the brew feeds and soothes all weary souls. From its coffee-dark depths to its thick-as-Miracle-Whip head of foam, a glass of Guinness isn't just refreshment—it's nourishment. The first sip is always bitter, but then comes a reassuring sweetness that seems to say, "There, there, it'll be all right."

To guzzle Guinness in a dark bar isn't only appropriate; it's also natural. The beer befits the dank environs of a seedy Irish pub especially well-and the darker the bar, the better it tastes. This is why nuzzling one at the new Auld Dubliner doesn't feel quite right: The place is too bright, with wide windows that open up to the outside world and a view of a Target parking lot.

I suppose this is to be expected, since it's located at the District in Tustin, a dining-and-entertainment mega-center aimed at attracting an affluent weekend crowd, not blue-collar down-and-outs. But the bar does what it can to be authentic. It must have taken them months of trolling eBay to find just the right kind of clutter to decorate the space. Vintage posters, retired sewing machines and spools of yarn litter every square inch in an apparent homage to Ireland's garment industry.

Insert Tobias Fünke joke here
Tim Melideo
Insert Tobias Fünke joke here

Location Info

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Auld Dubliner

2497 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Tustin

Auld Dubliner's menu, on the other hand, seems like an ode to the potato, the staple food of the Emerald Isle, second only to Guinness stout. The tuber inhabits almost every dish. It provides the chunks in a coarse soup with leeks. It's fried as "chips," mashed as "champ" and turned into boxtys—traditional Irish potato pancakes that are a cross between a latke and a crepe.

The floppy boxtys are folded over such proteins as grilled chicken and salmon, but they function best with Auld Dubliner's shepherd's pie filling—a mix of ground beef, lamb and peas that eats like corned-beef hash. In fact, the stuff tastes more like corned beef than the pub's actual dish of corned beef and cabbage.

Sliced as thin as bologna, the meat in this hallowed combo is surprisingly lean and not nearly as salty as it should be. But you do get a quartered head of cabbage with it-a rare dose of veggies in a meat-and-potatoes world of grub.

Don't get me wrong: They do have salads. But who'd order a salad in an Irish bar? To do so would go against the whole purpose of pub food: to absorb all the alcohol accumulating in your stomach. The manly portions also help to blunt inevitable hangovers. Auld Dubliner's Irish stew might as well be served in troughs, and the bangers and champ—three grilled Irish sausages served with lots of mashed potatoes—are plump and enormous enough to make a porn star feel inadequate.

There's lighter fare, but most are appetizers. Curry chips are just as advertised: French fries served with a surprisingly potent bowl of Indian curry dipping sauce. The Yorkshire pudding—miniature, puffy chef hats sculpted from batter—has a hollow pocket of air in the middle. Topped with a dollop of horseradish cream and a tiny curl of roast beef, they're like flapjacks masquerading as muffins. All are good eats, but none is as substantial as the sausage rolls. Essentially, they're puff-pastry turnovers stuffed with ground Irish sausage. It's meant to be slathered in HP sauce (Ireland's homegrown version of A1) and chased by another gulp of stout.

Their sweet Irish treats are also, not by coincidence, worthy accompaniments to Guinness. The oatmeal texture of the brown-bread ice cream is much more interesting than the spiced-apple cake it's served with. And the crème brûlée is twice as deep as those thin ramekins put out by sissy French chefs. What's more, its burnt-sugar top is laced with Irish whiskey.

By the way, Auld Dubliner has decent burgers, Buffalo hot wings, and Bud and Miller for those more comfy with vittles and brew from this side of the Atlantic—because what good is a pub if it isn't comfortable and familiar? Now let's talk about blacking out those windows . . .


Auld Dubliner, 2497 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 259-1562; www.aulddubliner.com. Open daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Dinner for two, $50-$60. Full bar.

 
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