While promoting itself as yet another Irish pub, Fearon’s Public House is actually more of a solid neighborhood joint for those in West Lakeview. Though The Ashland and Four Shadows can be found just a bit south on Ashland Avenue, there isn’t many places for neighborhood condo dwellers to get their drink on during the week and Fearon’s serves this need nicely, along with showing European football and rugby matches and featuring a decent, though sandwich-heavy, menu of pub grub.
Fearon’s is located at the northeast corner of Ashland and Wellington, across from Jewel and the strip mall emanating from it. Fearon’s light green-painted façade, with crisscrossing wooden beams and a tasteful wooden “Fearon’s” sign in gold upon dark wood, is a far cry from what the building housed for several years: Little Bucharest. This Romanian restaurant was a pride of the small population of Chicago Romanians and adventurous others that frequented it, and the joint was well known for its complimentary limousine pick-up service for patrons and they even hosted a Romanian street festival in summer. For those of you pining for “ma˘ma˘liga,” have no fear, Little Bucharest merely has moved to 3661 N. Elston Ave. and, after about five minutes as Declan’s (another “Irish” pub), Fearon’s moved in during 2006.
Step through the door at Fearon’s, and you’ll encounter the typical Chicago barroom shape: one long, somewhat narrow room featuring wooden floors, wood-paneled walls and a brown-painted tin ceiling. A few low-slung wooden tables are set in front of French windows overlooking Ashland. Wooden cocktail tables run alongside windows overlooking Wellington, and the leafy sidewalk café outside, as well as down the middle of the room, across from an antique wooden bar with high-backed wooden barstools that runs most of the length of the northern wall. A nicely mirrored bar back reflects a good selection of beer on tap and booze in bottles.
Contrary to what you might expect, Fearon’s does not specialize in traditional Irish dishes but instead offers a menu consisting mostly of sandwiches, wraps and a few salads. I can personally vouch for the “El Diablo” chicken sandwich, which is excellent and is served with spicy jack cheese, jalapenos and chipotle mayonnaise. A pretty good rotation of daily specials can be found, featuring both food and drink. Waitress service is average at best, and you’ll sometimes need to pry your server away from their friends to take care of you. When Mother Nature calls, the restrooms are located just beyond a chest-high wooden partition. A note for the guys: while of a smallish size, the mensroom has two urinals and a toilet but if someone happens to use the pot while you’re in there, it is virtually impossible to leave without making “contact”… uggh.
Several flatpanels are located around the room that broadcast football (soccer) matches from Europe and around the world via satellite, as well us World Cup Rugby. When your Euro-urges have been satisfied, Fearon’s also offers additional entertainment towards the end of the week. Open mic night is held every Wednesday. On my list visit, I found this to be surprisingly entertaining. Not only was the host and guest musicians talented, but there was also a group there having a going away party for an Irishman returning to his home country. While we were there, this wayward Paddy fell off his barstool twice and a redheaded girl he was with was performing drunken ballet moves, by bracing herself on hapless audience members and bit of the furniture. Fearon’s also hosts karaoke on Thursdays, a DJ on Fridays and, while the fad lasts, Sodoku tournaments on Sundays.
Overall, Fearon’s Public House is not a bad offering from the Fearon Brothers, who also recently opened the Uptown Lounge on Lawrence. If you want an authentic Irish pub with food, check out places like Cullen’s, Irish Oak and The Grafton, but if you want a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of people your age from the neighborhood—who like to booze as much as you do—check out Fearon’s (but be careful on open mic night…). For more information and Rugby World Cup listings, check out Fearon’s Public House website. Oy!