Ceol: Smith Street's Unsung Bar & Grill 


191 Smith Street

Nothing against upscale Mexican street food, chic bahn mi joints, and urban-rustic Lebanese fare, but there's something to be said for a trusty Irish-American bar and grill. Next time the hankering for a pint and a bite strikes on Smith Street, Ceol is worth a visit. We too have been scared away by the pub's intense karaoke nights and the fact that we're not sure how to pronounce the name of the place. (See-ole? Kee-ole? K'yole?) But the bar's new menu is reason to give this pub another shot.

Their frozen-and-fried greasy fare is a thing of the past, now that local chef Marc Elliot, who has cooked at Cobble Hill's now-closed Blue Star and Whim and Williamsburg Mexican joint Elote, is running the kitchen. His seafood expertise and Elote experience come together in his killer fish tacos—spicy and super-fresh blackened catfish is rolled up with creamy, cumin-dusted guacamole. He gets fancy with an oversized plate of crisp, batter-fried artichoke hearts accompanied by velvety carrot ice cream, and he also improves upon all the pub-grub standards—shepherd's pies, sliders, pulled pork sandwiches, tater tots and hand-cut fries.

Chef Marc is known for blasting the Grateful Dead wherever he goes, but at Ceol—the Gaelic word for "music"—the crowd is more attuned to David Gray, Damien Rice, and the Once soundtrack. On Wednesday nights, a folkie-yet-rowdy open-mic crew takes over the back room—which is haphazardly decorated with Celtic crosses, old framed photos, and shelves displaying antique knickknacks, kind of like what your Irish grandma's dining room might look like, if your grandmother did her decorating after a few Jamesons (hey, not everybody wants a neatly planned Pottery Barn-style wall-scape!). This is the night you can get all crazy on black-and-tans, sing along to songs you're hearing for the first time, and shake a tambourine over your expertly executed fish and chips.


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