McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar

McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub & Whiskey Bar

I’ve gone into Donegal Square on Bethlehem’s Main Street many times over the years. It’s filled with fun, interesting, and beautiful Celtic-themed articles, ranging from cups to rings to hats to CDs to walking sticks. It’s a charming place, and as much as I have enjoyed strolling its small space on the corner of Main and West Walnut Street, I had never once ventured upstairs into what, for many years, was called Granny McCarthy’s Tea Room. Since 2013, it’s grown into McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub and Whiskey Bar, and this is the restaurant at which my boyfriend and I decided to spend our evening.

It is a cozy place. At the time that we went, there was quite a crowd, so we stood in the small anteroom which housed a counter and fit a small set of Irish snugs opposite the entrance. The host had to do some finagling, and after a short wait, we were escorted into the main room. Seated next to a street window at a table for two, we received our menus and my immediate goal was to get myself a cup of tea.
During the walk to the restaurant, I knew I wanted a nice, black tea, but I was slightly concerned that they would only have regular black or decaf, which wouldn’t have boded well for my equally-tea-seeking boyfriend who is not friends with caffeine (even the remnant that resides in a decaf beverage). Let me tell you, I had no reason to fear.

What a glorious thing a tea menu is. This is not one or two selections of tea, this is a whole cornucopia of brewed beverages, totalling at an impressive twenty-two options, including herbals, greens, and rooibos (a naturally decaffeinated choice which still lends itself to the air of black tea).

My boyfriend and I were immediately impressed with the tea selection. I chose a Scottish Breakfast black tea, and he chose Crème Au Caramel rooibos. For the first time in our dining history, we had each decided on our meals before the server even appeared. In search of warm and hearty food, I chose the lamb stew and my boyfriend picked the cottage pie.

To both of our surprise, each of our teas came in individual pots and were loose-leaf. I suppose I figured that we would each receive one cup of hot water with a tea bag, but this was a vast improvement. The size of the cups held about six ounces of tea, and the pots provided at least three cups (I could not finish my pot). Both teas were delicious and comforting.

The food was equally good. Hearty and flavorful and each served with different complementary breads. My boyfriend’s cottage pie was blessed with an array of seasonings. My lamb stew was a sizable helping, full of flavor, and the lamb was a lovely texture.

Despite the crowd, the service was quick and our server checked on us frequently. On our way out, my boyfriend purchased three ounces of the loose-leaf Crème Au Caramel rooibos tea (sold per ounce at the front counter) and we went merrily on our way.

Charming, good food, wonderful tea, and an excellent choice if you’re on Main Street Bethlehem on a cold November day.

Visit: Website | Donegal Square

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