The cozy Worthington restaurant has solid pub grub.
Unlike several of its competitors, P.K. O'Ryan's wasn't built in Ireland and reassembled over here. And this tiny Irish-themed pub doesn't feature self-consciously eccentric seating in a splashy and sprawling setting.
No, P.K. O'Ryan's is just a neighborhoody place where actual locals gather to sip, chat and sup. Maybe that's why P.K.'s feels more like an authentic Irish pub than its built-in-Ireland, chainy brethren.
Located in quaint Old Worthington, P.K.'s is the kind of place where on a lazy Sunday, gentlemen have lunch with a pint and The New York Times and ladies roll in for an entree salad. On a weeknight with the Buckeyes on TV, the comfy pub -- which appropriates a cozy, pilsner-colored glow for evening lighting -- gets a bit more animated. But just a bit, mind you.
While P.K.'s is connected to a larger, more regulation restaurant, since I prefer its taverny aspect, I suggest you sit on that side (unless you've got the peewee basketball team in tow) -- just follow the shamrocks to the pub entry. Then plop down at a semi-rickety (in a good way) wooden bench with a padded back or belly up to the well-used wooden bar, which is the color of Guinness stout.
P.K.'s food is just solid pub grub, but some of its stuff stands out. The "so wrong they're right" Irish Nachos ($8) fit that stand-out category.
A massive pile of just-fried, dark and crispy kettle-style potato chips arrived decorated a la reuben sandwich. Yes, shredded bits of commendably house-roasted corned beef (though I would have liked more), sauerkraut, a decent Swiss cheese sauce and snipped scallions lent tons of salty and irresistible character to the good chips (Thousand Island was on the side for dipping).
Also good - if less wild - was the homemade chili ($4). Meaty, thick and hearty, it was made with black beans and seemed about 85 percent ground beef - a righteous ratio.
For a lighter starter, the house salad ($4.50) wasn't bad. While it's not something you'll be thinking about long afterward, neither is it a total blowoff. Good sized and assembled with fresh romaine (no iceberg), it was sprinkled with shredded cheese, tomato, onions and boxed croutons and got a bit of distinction from the sweet and salty house poppyseed feta dressing.
Want more of that crave-worthy house-roasted corned beef? Of course you do, so order one of P.K.'s excellent Grilled Reubens ($10). They're not overly greasy, are judiciously proportioned and come with extra-crispy french fries.
Made with Carfagna's ground beef, the burgers are solid here, too. My favorite was the salty Black & Bleu ($10), jacked up on Cajun seasonings and enriched with blue cheese.
The homemade Irish Stew ($11.50) was a big standout. A huge, housemade bread bowl was loaded with a soulful, potato-heavy stew of tender pot roast, sweet onions, carrots and a thick, Guinness-sloshed beefy gravy.
What's a homemade Irish sheet cake?
It'a a giant block of chocolate cake with nuts and a sweet fudgy icing ($5). In other words, what you'd call a nice Texas sheet cake when eaten in a pub that feels accommodatingly Irish.
To read G.A. Benton's blog, visit ColumbusDiningGuide.com.