At first glance, Cronin's Publick House looks like any other townie joint that one finds throughout the Boston area. Don't be fooled, though; the food at this homey little restaurant around the corner from the old Fore River Shipyard area can be summed up using any number of superlatives. Quite simply, Cronin's serves food of such high quality that it is hard to believe that more people have not found out about it. Looking beyond the food, the atmosphere is fine as well, being a bit more comfortable you might expect from this type of place. A well-worn bar dominates the front room, while further back, a handful of booths and tables can be found along the walls, with a long table with barstools in the middle. The beautiful paintings that hang from the walls are inspiring to anyone who has been to Ireland; I have been to the Emerald Isle a few times, and the pictures show scenes of perhaps Mayo or Connemara on the west coast of that scenic island nation.
Cronin's mainly has pub food on its menu, much of which is top notch. The steak tips, for instance, rival the best that can be found anywhere in the Boston area, including those served at the fantastic New Bridge Cafe in Chelsea and the underrated Joe Sent Me in Cambridge and Waltham. (The fact that the website for Cronin's is "steaktips.com" shows just how serious they take their steak tips.) The turkey tips are equally delicious (if not better), and the soups are all terrific, including a fiery Cajun chicken soup and an excellent clam chowder. Speaking of hot and spicy, the chili here is loaded with jalapenos, so for those who like a bit of heat to start off their meals, this may be a good option. Another item with heat is the taco salad, which is loaded with peppers, cheese, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and more. And for fans of bar pizza, Cronin's may not quite be up to the level of the Lynwood Cafe in Randolph for this kind of pizza (truthfully, though, what place is?), but it is very tasty. If you are in the mood for a burger, Cronin's makes some very good ones, as they are juicy, fresh, and big enough to fill you up pretty quickly, while the hearty shepherd's pie is another solid option here. Finally, don't ignore the specials that Cronin's features nightly; some of them are good, solid dishes, such as the cheesy and meaty lasagna, while others are truly outstanding, such as the Kansas City sirloin, which is lean, tender, and full of flavor, and is priced at an almost absurd level.
Awhile back, this site was once called onto the carpet by someone for calling Cronin's a dive--albeit a great one--on a local restaurant forum. And it indeed seems now that we were perhaps incorrect about this, as this spot is certainly more than your typical watering hole with so-so food (or no food). For those who don't know Cronin's, perhaps it is too easy to shrug it off while driving by its unassuming storefront. Don't make this mistake; quite simply, Cronin's is one Boston-area bar that is just too good to pass up.
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