There's more beer here and we miss Ajia

[media-credit name="Madeleine Wattenbarger" align="alignright" width="300"][/media-credit]

St. Declan’s Well, the newly opened Irish bar next to World Café on Walnut Street, has no pretensions. It offers exactly what you’d expect from a new Irish bar in University City posturing only as a new Irish bar in Philadelphia: a fairly predictable drink selection, Celtic–inspired décor and a menu heavy on fried food.

Towards the beginning of happy hour, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on Fridays, customers occupied only a few of the brightly–lit dining room tables and about a dozen patrons crowded around the bar. The waiters provided attentive service. The ambience is more bar–of–your–suburban–Applebee’s than rustic pub: oil paintings of sheep, cows and crumbling stone line the walls, and the soundtrack consists of former Top 40 hits.

St. Declan’s food is similarly drab. The food is greasy enough to mask that it’s lackluster until a few overpriced bites—and, presumably, beers—deep. The beer–battered onion rings ($8) are adequately crispy; the Chesapeake fries ($7) are vaguely spicy, but accompanied by a warm cheddar dip, which alleges to be infused with crab, but whose phlegmy texture is more notable. The tenderloin sandwich ($13) features pleasantly tender disks of filet mignon, but overwhelmed by a heavy white bun and accompanied only by a slice of wan provolone, the meat itself isn’t enough to carry the dish. An Irish pub should take pride in its fish and chips ($13); unfortunately, the cod’s thick breading and excess of oils detracts.

Of course, St. Declan’s is a bar first and foremost, and as such, its patrons expect to chase their over–salted sandwiches with thirst–quelling beers. But for entrees around $15, a little more excitement is in order.

St. Declan's Well

3131 Walnut St

(212) 883–0965

Don't Miss: Getting drunk west of the Schuykill

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