Fresh off Ireland’s most recognized holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, we thought you might want to know a little more about one of Atlanta’s authentic Irish Pubs. The Marlay House in Decatur is owned by Darren, Jennifer and Colin; three siblings that were born and raised in Rathfarnham, Ireland. Here Darren shares the four factors that make The Marlay House an authentic Dublin Pub: the food, the beer, the atmosphere and the name.
Locally grown and organic vegetables had always been the norm in Ireland, but people don’t expect that. Now pubs are slowly shifting to a focus on kitchen and food instead of just beer.
We had to choose what we imported from Ireland because of costs, and what was most important to us was using Kerrygold butter and cheddar cheese.
The shepherd’s pie that we serve here is very close to the way our mom would make it. It is a rich, meat-based dish with lots of gravy.
Growing up in Ireland, it was a treat to get fish and chips from the chipper. Our recipe here uses Atlantic cod and a thick batter. We actually had to scale back the batter because people thought it was too thick, but that’s what we were used to. We fry the fish in a German wheat beer and that improves the color and flavor.
For the fries, there was no question that we would have thick hand-cut potatoes because it lends itself to a nicely golden brown, not too crispy but not too soggy texture.
We were adamant about serving a pint of Guinness as close to one that you would sell in Dublin. The first thing I did when I went back to Dublin after we opened the restaurant was ordered a pint of Guinness. We were close, but I have to say that a pint of Guinness still tastes better in Ireland.
We are probably one of the only bars that cleans our own lines, which is what the beer travels in from the kegs to the tap. We sell enough Guinness that we are moving them through the lines regularly, but at least once a week we run an alkaline solution and acid solution through the lines to ensure that no buildup occurs.
The glassware also has to be immaculately clean, or the Guinness will stain it. You want the head of the Guinness to stick to the glass when you drink it.
We never wanted to be the knick-knack Irish pub where the décor did the talking. A Dublin pub typically doesn’t have a lot of décor. It has wood paneling and looks refined.
Irish pubs are not like the stereotype people think of- out in the middle of the country- they actually have good music and a smart progressive crowd.
My goal was never to recreate what I liked and experienced from home. Some people who come here to get a Dublin experience may not get that but they will get touches. We’ve had people come in and see the “D-14 Burger,” which is named after Rathfarnham’s mailing code, and say, “I’m from D-14!”
We were not going to go for a gaudy name like “Patty O’Brien’s,” we wanted to be authentic.
Our original name was The Grange House, named after an area in our town that had a farmhouse called The Grange. There was a federal trademark dispute with a farming association named The National Grange, so we held a competition to rename this pub.
People who did their homework realized The Grange in Rathfarnham was renamed The Marlay House in 1876, after a judge’s wife. About 5 people out of 500 entries got it. The Marlay House was a no-brainer, it touched on where we were from.