The Shanachie Irish Pub and Restaurant, located in downtown Ambler, Pennsylvania, provides diners with an authentic Irish experience. The Shanachie presents innovative cuisine, fine drink, and musical entertainment with charming finesse. More than just a place to go after work, The Shanachie represents a retained and respected tradition within a comfortable, contemporary setting.
Walking through the door, patrons immediately feel warmly welcomed by the décor, which manages to appear as contemporary as other high-end restaurants in the area while maintaining an authentic feel. The atmosphere created by the generous bar area and open music space are as welcoming as the staff. The ample space never subtracts from the genuine feel of the establishment, however, especially when it is full.
If you’re just here for some drinks, the well-stocked bar is just in front of you upon your arrival. This also keeps other areas of the restaurant clear of bar-only traffic, allowing for a five star dining experience in the other half of the restaurant. Because of the diversity of drink, food, and entertainment offered, you will find The Shanachie filled with patrons of varying age here for different things at the same place-a concept that most establishment owners have yet to understand in America. This is underscored by The Shanachie’s simultaneous receipt of “Best Pub/Bar” and “Best Family Dining” Readers’ Choice Awards by Montgomery Newspapers.
The second section of the restaurant features dining tables and a magnificent stage-the soul of the place. There is a pleasant backdrop on the wall, featuring a rendition of sheet music and lyrics as well as some traditional instruments including a bodhrán (pronounced ‘bow-ron,’ an Irish frame drum). Live music is performed Tuesday through Saturday in the evenings, including a traditional session on Tuesdays.
Gerry Timlin is one frequently performing musician, though his role at The Shanachie extends far beyond that particular talent. Raised in County Tyrone, Ireland, Timlin became well-known at a young age for his musical ability. Through this common interest, he met co-proprietor Ed Egan, who shared with Timlin an affinity for Irish culture. This developed their desire to establish a pub, and when the pair discovered the redevelopment taking place on East Butler Street in Ambler, they knew they’d found the appropriate location.
Founding another Irish pub simply wasn’t enough. Instead, the duo wanted The Shanachie to properly honor the traditions they respected so well. Enter Brian Duffy, locally famed chef. Duffy contributed a brilliantly refreshing menu including the ‘New Celtic’ cuisine, helping to bring the Irish culinary renaissance to Ambler.
Aside from the enthusiasm and involvement of the proprietors, the menu sets The Shanachie above all competition-including Irish establishments in downtown Philadelphia. If you have ever been intimidated by a menu with many items in a restaurant serving foreign food, you’ll have nothing to worry about here. The Shanachie’s menu is divided by courses and type in the form of chapters of a story, making it very easy to select the perfect multi-course meal. Selections are well-described and offered in both English and Irish on the menu. This encourages the patron to learn about the food and language rather than being intimidated by it. The wait staff are not shy about their recommendations and the kitchen staff are compliant when special requests are made.
In particular, the appetizer menu offers excellent fare for any patrons present for the music. The Celtic Cheese Board is highly recommended in particular, allowing the diner to experience a large sampling of cheese, nuts, and berries along with several types of crackers and breads. For a reasonable price, The Shanachie also offers grilled and carved sandwiches. A kid’s meal costs only $5.25 and includes a drink, side dish, and dessert.
The Shanachie does handle special events. Dress is business casual, though attire ranging from jeans and dress shirts to business suits will often be seen at the bar. If you are meeting someone at The Shanachie, allow additional time for parking. Reservations are suggested during busier hours and special days such as Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. A complete list of happy hours, music nights, and special events are listed on the pub’s website.