For a relatively small town, Walpole certainly has its fair share of restaurants and bars, including a few Irish pubs, one of which is just south of the town center and the other being in the heart of the center. And while both of those spots serve good food and well-poured pints, lovers of Irish pubs should not overlook another spot in this southwestern suburb of Boston, namely Finnegan's Wake, a pub that used to be housed in a hard-to-find basement room behind the center and which is now a bit more out in the open a short distance north of the downtown area--and while it has lost a bit of the coziness of its old home, it remains an appealing dining and drinking spot with good food, good drink, and a friendly vibe to it.
One reason for Finnegan's Wake's appeal before it moved a couple of years ago was the the fact that the pub was located in an old foundry in an area behind the center that had a distinctly industrial feeling. Well, the building is being replaced by an apartment complex, which resulted in the pub having to find a new home, and it ended up moving to a shopping center a mile north of its old location. From the outside, the current location of Finnegan's Wake looks downright tiny, though its corner location where the front-facing part of the shopping center meets the side-facing part helps give it plenty of room, including a long bar to the right where people can drink and eat, a good amount of seating to the left and further back, and a "hidden" patio behind the left wall that is pretty much sheltered from the rest of the shopping center. High-tops tend to be the rule in the middle of the space, while booths and bench seats can be found along the walls, affording plenty of seating options for both smaller and larger groups.
The menu at the old location of Finnegan's Wake included a mix of classic American, Irish, and pub grub option, and that hasn't really changed all that much, though some of the dishes (including the specials) head a bit into New American territory. A few options include a thick, meaty chili, an outstanding traditional poutine, nicely marinated steak tips, a French dip, an Irish toastie, Guinness beef stew, a rather large shepherd's pie, and flaky fish and chips, as well as burgers, grilled rib eye, flatbread pizza, and baked haddock. Finnegan's menu does have an item or two that you might not find in all Irish pubs; the hearty turkey dinner, for instance, is something you would more likely find in a classic diner, while the liver and onions dish is an acquired taste that the more Americanized Irish pubs don't always have. Drink options include the usual pints of Guinness, glasses of Jameson, and the like, along with a few local craft beer options.
Finnegan's Wake is not quite the hidden gem that it used to be, but it remains a comfortable place that neighborhood folks tend to frequent. The food is solid, the prices are reasonable, service is friendly and efficient, and there is plenty of parking at its present location since it is in a shopping center. Sure, the other pubs in town are definitely worth checking out, but if you like to go to restaurants and bars that feel like true local hangouts, Finnegan's Wake will probably fit the bill.
Copyright © 2019, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).