By Kathleen Vanesian
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch
By Lauren Saria
By JK Grence
By Eric Schaefer
By Robrt L. Pela
By Eric Schaefer
Mulligan's kitchen goes to the trouble of making its own desserts, a sign that a restaurant takes its culinary mission seriously. Most of the recipes here rely on one of two ingredients: chocolate or liquor. You won't hear me complaining. The chocolate whiskey cake brings them both together in a rich, intense way. Even better is the blackberry cinnamon bread pudding, bathed in a hard-hitting vanilla sauce. No use swallowing this--just put it directly on your hips.
You don't need Saint Patrick's Day as an excuse to stop by Mulligan's. This friendly pub will do just as well the other 365 days of this year.
740 E. Apache Blvd.
Tempe, AZ 85281
Timber Wolf Pub, 740 East Apache, Tempe, 517-9383. Hours: Lunch and Dinner, 11 a.m to 1a.m., seven days a week.
Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Because, he said, "that's where the money is." Why might Saint Patrick's Day celebrants head to Timber Wolf? Because that's where the beer is.
This pub claims to have the largest beer selection in the state. It could very well be true. I counted more than 100 brews on tap and a couple of hundred models available in bottles. Just about every beer-producing country is represented. Among the more interesting draft options: Abbey De Leffe Blonde from Belgium; Paulaner Hefe-Weizen from Germany; Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic; Watney's Cream Stout from England; Celis Pale Bock from the U.S.; and, appropriately enough, Murphy's Irish Stout from Ireland.
It may take a few beers to get over the setting. The proprietors have gone for the Yukon Territory-trading-post look, a rather incongruous design theme here in the desert Southwest. The interior, constructed from roughhewn logs, looks like something Abe Lincoln could have been born in, if only his birthplace had been built with 5,000 square feet of living space and accessorized with several televisions tuned to sports programming. Skis, sleds and snowshoes hanging from the other walls provide just the right North Pole touches. Seats, meanwhile, are a mix of chairs and cushion-topped beer kegs that the derriere-challenged may want to avoid. Nonstop, pounding rock music ensures that drinking and eating, not conversation, will take up most of your time.
But that's okay, because some of the food is surprisingly palatable, especially the munchies. I expected the battered and deep-fried appetizers to emerge from a 25-pound sack in the freezer, like they do at most places. But that's not what happens here. The onion rings came just the way I like them--big, puffy, right-out-of-the-fryer Bermudas. The freshly battered mozzarella sticks were just as appealing: crunchy, cheesy and greaseless. Hoisting a pint in one hand and a mozzarella stick in the other may seem an odd way to celebrate the Catholic Church's arrival in and the snakes' departure from Ireland--but it is undeniably pleasant.
A couple of main dishes are serviceable enough, no mean achievement when it comes to pub fare. The eight-ounce grilled Angus steak is a good option, a gristle-free piece of beefy animal protein. Chicken-fried steak won't win any nutrition awards, but no one's eating and drinking here under doctor's supervision, anyway. Timber Wolf's chicken-fried model, a tender slice of beef encased in a crunchy batter and smothered with peppery country gravy, goes down as easily as a German beer. The $6.75 tag shouldn't make you change your lifestyle, either.
Grilled pork chops, two hefty center cuts, could have taken top honors. But they were done in by a marinade so salty that diners who insist on polishing them off risk going into sodium arrest. I'd also shy away from the distressing "Log Cabin Meat Loaf," thick, tasteless slabs of ground beef which may have actually once formed part of a log cabin.
You get a choice of sides with the entrees. Pass on the cafeteria-quality fries and rice and stick with the mortarlike mashed potatoes, studded with onions. Unfortunately, the kitchen also sends out a heaping pile of inedible mixed vegetables doused in an inedible sauce. These veggies couldn't tempt a starving vegan.
The antidote? Try Timber Wolf's sole dessert, an apple spice cake topped with nuts and caramel sauce that leaves a sweet impression.
No one is ever going to confuse Timber Wolf with a gourmet restaurant, or call it a "wee bit of Ireland." But if you've got a thirst for beer and a hunger for munchies, this place will work, at prices that won't turn you green.
Pot of Gold
Chocolate whiskey cake
Timber Wolf Pub: