Irish Coffee: Ground Rounds and Good Company
Irish Coffee has been a Grosse Pointe staple since 1980. Serving its famous ground rounds and other bar fare, this neighborhood establishment is definitely worth a visit.
There are certain things you don't discuss at family gatherings—religion, politics, pizza, burgers. OK, maybe that's going a little far, but it is not far fetched to say arguments will start over who has the best burger. Grosse Pointe has its share of burger joints, so I'm going to take one for the team and start the best burger discussion.
Our first contestant is Irish Coffee. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2010, Irish Coffee has been a neighborhood staple. There's nothing fancy about the space. A bar that extends the length of the restaurant, booths along the wall, and the grill is behind the bar, so you can see your food being prepared. Bar is stocked with any liquor you can imagine. Beer selection is boring, although they make a decent Black and Tan with Sam Adams lager and Guinness Irish Stout.
When the word "bar" is uttered, Irish Coffee is the type of place I picture. Sports memorabilia cover the walls. Customers know the bartenders and the bartenders know the customers. Conversations ignite between folks sitting at the bar and every so often the bartender interjects a bit of wisdom. Truly a warm and inviting place where anyone is welcome. Families, regulars, couples and groups all together enjoying the atmosphere and company.
The menu is simple. Burgers, sandwiches, assorted deep-fried appetizers and dinner plates (perch, steak, shrimp) comprise the approximately 30-item menu. Specials are offered as well. Might sound reductionist, but focus on the burger here. The front of their menu exclaims, "Over one million ground rounds sold!" Why question it?
One burger derivative that I can recommend is the homemade chili. Chunky but not overly thick, the smoky heat is infinitely pleasing. Large bits of hamburger, lots of beans, green pepper and onion all swimming in a light, full-flavored tomato sauce. There's really no better way to warm up on cold night than with a bowl of hearty chili even before you're about to bite into a burger.
It is easy to wax poetic about a good burger. A hand-formed patty of ground beef on soft, supple bun topped with thick-cut bacon; ooey-gooey American cheese; crisp, cool lettuce; sweet tomato; and crunchy raw onion—is there a better meal in a bun?
Ground round is a bit leaner than ground chuck, but the burger does not lack flavor. I ordered my burger medium and it came to table simply seasoned, incredibly juicy and perfectly cooked. You'll notice that the burgers are cooked on a flat top, allowing the patty to cook in its own juices. This is an ideal way to cook a burger, and Irish Coffee does it splendidly.
There's really nothing more satisfying than that first bite into a burger where all of the layers align perfectly. The savory goodness of the burger's elements washes over you and, for a second, all is right with the world.
If you order the ground round deluxe, a side of french fries and cole slaw are included in the price. As crazy as this may sound, I would recommend ordering another burger instead of the fries and slaw.
There is nothing particularly offensive about either side, but there is nothing good either. The fries are not fresh cut. They come to the table smoldering, but lack any real potato flavor.
The cole slaw is dressed in a light mayonnaise dressing. Though definitely fresh with a substantial crunch, the flavor just didn't do it for me. Too much sweetness without an acidic balance makes cole slaw cloying. Like I said, save the calories on the fries and slaw and order a second patty on your burger.
If you are an early eater, a burger, fries and draft beer or pop is only $4.95 before 5 p.m. And for those of us who are late eaters, the grill is open until 1 a.m. every night of the week.
Irish Coffee has plenty of personality. From the atmosphere to the bartenders to the food, all aspects make sense together. Their burger is very good and it is easy to see why people from all generations and locations flock here. It's the simple pleasures—a burger and beer—that will make you smile.