I only had the chance to visit McSwiggins once and have told the tale ever since. Every time I visit an "Irish" pub in the States I ask the bartender if he might have a bottle of Paddy squirreled away somewhere. At most, the response is usually a sly grin and a wink. One evening in 2002 I had occasion to spend a night at the Hawthorne Hotel and, not knowing the area well I wandered around the neighborhood. Upon discovering McSwiggin's across the street I was pleased to find a very nice Shepherd's Pie and a bottle of Teachers behind the bar. Eventually, I asked my usual question and to my surprise, the owner produced a bottle of Paddy and shared a glass or two with me. What a delight! True Irish hospitality from a true Irishman from County Cork. I shall treasure the memory of that evening always and I wish the owners of the new "English" pub the fortune and fortitude to be as warm and friendly to every stranger who crosses their threshold. Cheers!
This pub was my favorite hangout on earth! I still wept over the loss. The food by chef Caldwell was to die for. The service (Irish lasses) was amazing! HOW did this great place close down??
I have tried the "Old Spot" twice and it cannot hold a candle to McSwiggins.
On a chance, back in April of 2006, I had reservations at a nice place where I was going to take my current wife on our first meeting. Her bus from NYC was 3 hours late and we missed our reservations. So I took her to my favorite pub. She was very impressed!! This was my final time at McSwiggins! It could not have turned out any better.
Cheers, 'ol McSwiggins
I noticed a couple of poor reviews of the Old Spot and, I just wanted to chime in to say I've eaten there three times and it was very good each time. The menu offers a range of items, from salmon (highly recommended) and steak tips to burgers and chicken sandwiches, with a price range from $9-$18 (from what I remember). The waitstaff is mostly good... I'd say above average for the Salem area, where I think a lot of places have pretty iffy service.
The Old Spot: We went there the day after Thanksgiving to enjoy a bit of Salem before we drove back to Maine. What a disappointment. Not much was open for lunch and we were there on the later side, so it shouldn't have been a problem to get a quick meal. It was confusing walking in with no one to greet us. After a few minutes someone acknowledged us and showed us to a table. We ordered fairly quickly and proceeded to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait. Good thing we had food for our 2 yr. old or else we would've had a meltdown on our hands.
Finally, after about 45 minutes, a woman (NOT our waitress, who had seemingly forgotten us) came over to apologize for the wait and tell us that we would receive our food soon. She offered to buy us a round of drinks, which we refused. But I said she could pay for the drinks we had already ordered (reasonable I thought). After another 10-15 min. our food arrived (a simple grilled chicken sandwich and the banger special). The bun was burned. The chicken was dry and slightly burned. The banger lunch (a whopping $7) was ONE tiny sausage with a small pile of greens on top. No kidding. The chicken sandwich had plenty of fries, but I would've rather had fewer, some veggies, and decently cooked food.
When we got the bill, they had taken the sandwich off, left the drinks on and the banger meal. No one wanted to come near us when we tried to reconcile what we thought the bill should be, so we just left the money and got out. But that time there was very little time to sightsee. Needless to say, we will not be back.
My wife and I went to Salem with our friends and used Yahoo! reviews to determine the best place. We determined McSwiggin's was the place to go, based on reviews. After a long night of walking around, we had a bear of a time finding it.
That's because it is now called "The Old Spot". If you are doing a pub crawl and this place is like 4 or 5 on your list, then go ahead and eat here. My steak tips were rough to cut through, my wife's chicken was dry, and my friend had the Deluxe Cheeseburger, and asked for it "well, well, well done". It showed up at the table with, no kidding, an outer shell. I saw the shell. It reminded me of the last time I peeled an avocado.
One of the pluses of the place was that it had Woodchuck Hard Cider on tap. Went down smooth!!
The waitstaff was pretty decent, but when you walk in, you don't know whether you can just claim a table or if you have to put a name down. It's confusing!!!
All in all, I won't go back. It was noisy, and the food was nothing to write home about.
Monday nights at McSwiggins was my favorite place to be until I moved to Brighton. Great music, cool people, always a good time. The drinks are average to pricy but its worth it. I just moved back to the area and I hope that going back it will be the same!
We stopped in on a chance and had some appetizers and soup. The clam chowder was the best I have ever had in any New England restaurant. The ingredients were so fresh, lots of clams, and presented beautifully with fresh chopped parsley decorating the top. Prices were very good as well. This is a place not to miss.
Great oldtime Irish pub atmosphere with outstanding food! Cheerful and attractive staff!
With the menu and quality of food you'd think you were at a haute urban eatery.
Talented, resourceful, and well trained chef!
Relax and eat like the elite at affordable prices!
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