Darcy McGee’s: a Historic Irish Pub on Sparks Street

When travelling to a new place, you might as well combine history with a unique dining experience and good food. So literally steps away from our temporary home at the Lord Elgin Hotel, we found Darcy McGee’s, which refers to itself as “Ottawa’s Authentic Irish Pub”. Darcy McGee’s is located at the intersection of Sparks and Elgin Streets, just a stone’s throw away from Parliament Hill and all of Ottawa’s major sights.

Actually, Thomas Darcy McGee was a prominent Ottawa politician and one of the Fathers of Confederation. What made him famous were his stirring speeches, which helped unite this fractured new country called Canada. On April 7th, 1868, he was assassinated in front of his Sparks Street boarding house, just minutes away from where the pub is now located.

When we entered the pub it was absolutely packed, every seat was filled, and the areas in front of the bar were filled with a stand-up crowd. I found out later that a concert was scheduled for 8 pm with Lyle Lovett in the National Arts Centre, which is literally across the street from the pub.

We got a comfortable seat in one of the corners of this cozy pub and relaxed after a busy day of skating on the Rideau Canal. The concert goers started to filter out by 7:45 pm and it got a little easier to breathe in this very popular spot.

Naturally, skating makes you very hungry, so I had a peak at the rather reasonably priced menu and one particular dish caught my eye: A “Melted Stilton Cheese Dip”, which consists of Stilton, aged cheddar and cream cheeses blended with fresh spinach. It is served in a pumpernickel roll with toasted bagel chips and Granny Smith Apple wedges. The taste was actually reminiscent of a creamy blue cheese dip and I really enjoyed it.

I followed up the appetizer with a Mediterranean Tomato Salad of sliced hothouse tomatoes with goat cheese, red onion, cracked black peppercorns and extra virgin olive oil, with a side of garlic bread. Although Darcy McGee’s carries hearty traditional pub fare, I decided to go a little lighter on the calories for the main dish.

After dinner I thought I should discover the history and unique features of this place a little more and I looked up one of the people who run the pub. Jennifer Rafuse is one of the managers and she was kind enough to show me around and give me a low-down on this unique place.

She pointed out that the furnishings of the pub were designed and built in Ireland and were shipped over to Canada. The pub indeed has a lot of unique decor consisting of hand-crafted reddish wood with uniquely decorated glass inserts. The ambience is cozy with dimmed down lights and several private sitting areas leading off the main bar area.

Darcy McGee: part of Ottawa’s history

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