Our waitress, who is disappointingly not Irish, sets my shepherd’s pie in front of me as Grayson Richmond (‘17) helps the live band, Joshua Eadie and the Black Velvet Band, sing the chorus of “Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her.” Rare Olde Times, located at Canterbury Shopping Center, 10602 Patterson Ave., is an Irish pub that my family has been going to for the last ten years. We started to go back when smoking in the restaurant was still allowed and the roof and walls showed it. We started going back a few years later when it was revitalized, and smoking was no longer allowed. Now, the restaurant is family friendly enough for a young girl and her family to dance around to a live band in kilts on a Sunday night. There are games on the side, like darts and shuffleboard, and there is always something going on, like trivia night, open mic night, or live bands. Collegiate’s own Paddle Faster has played there numerous times, and former Cougar and singer/songwriter Emma Lynn White (‘11) played there with them just this past Sunday, October 2. There are no nights off at Rare Olde Times. But the main attraction, like in all restaurants, is the food.
The menu caters to all tastes. Whether you want an Irish classic like corned beef or fish and chips, or prefer a more familiar flavor like a burger and chicken tenders, there is truly a diverse menu for the casual restaurant goer. Nick Morrison (‘17), Colton Jones (‘17) and I decided to order the shepherd’s pie. About ten minutes after ordering, the shepherd’s pie was placed in front of us in a small but deep bowl with mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, along with cheese, and chives on top. We grabbed our spoons and scooped the brisket and toppings out. While I do not usually enjoy cooked carrots, whenever I have one on my spoon in a shepherd’s pie, I always know that that bite will be very rewarding.
The brisket is always cooked evenly, the cheese is stringy and fresh, and mashed potatoes with homemade gravy is a home run in any dish. Trying to make potatoes and cheese last for the whole bowl, I mix them into the brisket, which makes every bite as rewarding as the last. With the flavor being unparalleled, my only problem with the dish was that the bowl was not bigger. I would love to see them offer different sizes for the dish. The diversity on the menu was perfect for my friend Grayson. Wanting to eat something tried-and-true, he decided to get the Philly cheesesteak. Like all of the food at Rare Olde Times, “It was delicious!” Another fan of ROT, Upper School English teacher Vlastik Svab, says that the Drunken Pig, a slow cooked pork sandwich marinated in Guinness and topped with grilled onions, Swiss cheese, and a touch of Guinness BBQ sauce, is “one of [his] favorite sandwiches in all of Richmond.”
However, our dinner did not end with the entree. Wanting to experience more of what Rare Olde Times had to offer, we decided to order dessert. My friends and I settled on the apple crisp á la mode. Apples, whipped cream, and ice cream are all perfect compliments to each other, and the Rare Olde Times dish was no exception. The apples were not cooked as thoroughly as they could have been, with each one being warm enough on the outside to know that they were cooked, yet they remained oddly cool on the inside. This did not take away much from the meal, with the whipped cream and ice cream making the apples taste wonderful in combination.
One of the best parts of the pub, unless you have a dad who insists on talking in an faux-Irish accent to the staff, is having a waiter or waitress that is Irish. Unfortunately, for us, neither of our waitresses had that specific dialect that is so lovable to hear. Another issue I had with Rare Olde Times is the live music. While this is not specific to just Rare Olde Times, I tend to not like live music.
The music is usually loud, and my voice is quiet, so whenever a live band is playing it is usually hard for me to talk to people. While live music is not always to my taste, if you like that sort of thing you’ll have something to listen to almost every night.
There is not much to dislike about the restaurant. The service is fast and fair, the waiters are attentive and personable, and the menu is diverse but fits the theme of an Irish pub. The food is phenomenal, the atmosphere tasteful, and they have more things to do than just eat or talk. Rare Olde Times has always been a reliable destination and is in an accessible location. Rare Olde Times scores an easy 9/10, a score consistent with scores on other websites, like Groupon among others. If you have never been to Rare Olde Times, I recommend a visit. It is always fun, and you know you will get a delicious meal.
All photos by Willie Hunter.