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Restaurant Review: Ambler's 'Finn McCool's'

Is it a chain? Yes. But does that make it bad? Not necessarily.

Can an Irishman, or for that matter, an Irish pub, have a better moniker?  The name actually derives from “Fionn mac Cumhaill,” in Old Irish, the blonde hunter-warrior of Irish myth and legend, the English version of the name being “Finn McCool.”  And it is the name of a large, national chain of traditional Irish taverns.

The Finn McCool's in Ambler is one of the more recent additions to the franchise, and further enlivens Ambler's bright entertainment and restaurant scene.  It is housed in a huge, historic old stone building on the main drag in Ambler.  It has some outdoor tables with umbrellas right out front.  Inside, it is all classic pub —Kelly green and varnished woods, hardwood floors and, of course, a large central bar offering cold drafts and drinks.

While McCool's large menu features a few good ol' Irish favorites like shepherd's pie and Gaelic steak made with Jameson Irish Whiskey, it is well filled out with many more American pub standbys like soups, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, very good cheesesteaks and burgers, wraps, pastas, and platters – all priced very reasonably.  There is even a children’s menu.

Since it opened, I have made both a lunch and a dinner visit, each time with three or more dining companions.  All the dishes, both times, were more than satisfactory, well-portioned and tasteful.

The grilled Gulf shrimp and baby spinach salad ($12) was completed with roasted red pepper, hard boiled egg, tomato, crumbled bacon and wild berry vinaigrette.  (It also comes with provolone cheese, which I eschewed).  I loved the combination of these ingredients, and made a very happy plate.

The burgers are made with a half pound of Angus beef ($7), which looked really delicious, and are served with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a fresh bun.  You are invited to “name your own burger” by adding from a choice of five cheeses and four toppings.  Add fries for an additional $2.

Homemade crab cakes are featured in three of the eight entrees. One is served alongside a New York strip steak for $23.  The crab cake sandwich for $12 sounds like a bargain, and I may have to try one next time.

Bartender Aileen stands behind bar during daylight hours, and will chat it up and take good care of you if you sit at the bar.

Internet reviews on Urban Spoon and Yelp are very mixed.  Noise levels can be very loud when the dining room or bar is full.

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Overall Rating:  m m m 1/4   (out of 5 m’s)  Classic Irish pub chain, good menu at reasonable prices.

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Location:
34 East Butler Pike
Phone: 215-643-2705                             
Hours:
Mon, Wednesday through Sun 11 a.m. through 2 a.m.; Tuesday, 9 a.m. through 2 a.m.
Prices: 
Appetizers, soups, salads,  $4 to $13; sandwiches, burgers, wraps, $6 to $9; entrées, pastas $11 to $23
Ambiance
: Classic Irish pub.
Reservations
: Suggested on weekends
Credit Cards
: All major accepted
Alcoholic beverages:
It's a tavern.          
Special Features
: Early bird specials, happy hour, Monday through Friday

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To contact Mitch Davis, email: MdavisMainCourse@aol.com

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