The Chain Pub: Fionn MacCool’s

Pubs are a dime a dozen in Edmonton. But given their versatility, the popularity of pubs isn’t difficult to understand. Good for a pint after work, a casual bite to eat, for groups large and small, and of course, for those looking to have an evening out, they transition well from day to night. We have our share of pubs downtown, and I’m sure there are more to come. Last week, Mack and I had supper at the most recent addition to our neighbourhood, Fionn MacCool’s, the decision resulting from my need for a drink at the end of a long day, and the fact that it seemed like we’d exhausted all other restaurants within a two-block radius.

Back in October, Fionn MacCool’s replaced the Elephant & Castle in City Centre Mall opposite the movie theatre. The location was in dire need of a makeover, so the change of ownership was a blessing of sorts, even if MacCool’s is nothing more than a franchise of a Toronto-based chain. The interior has been completely refreshed, and though the dark wood accents have been retained, a new bar has been installed, and the space has been opened up to feature even more large tables. Lastly, a makeshift stage has been constructed to host live musical acts on Thursdays and Saturdays. That particular night, we had the option of Olympic replays or a live acoustic duo play the backdrop to our dinner, though like most in the room, it was just for ambiance.

Fionn MacCool's

Inside Fionn MacCool’s

They had a decent drink special on ($5.50 for selected pints), but neither of us had particularly high expectations for the food (this was our first visit to MacCool’s, though there is another branch on the south side that has been open for quite some time).

Fish & chips ($16 for two pieces) was disappointing. The batter was more like a hard shell than a fork-tender encasement, but at least it was crispy. The fries (which I had made into a poutine) were less than ideal, dense and unsatisfying – it’s really unfortunate when a pub can’t even get fries right.

Fionn MacCool's

Fish & chips with poutine

Mack’s fried haddock sandwich ($15) was advertised on the menu as being topped with lobster – given how much lobster he found (and really, at that price, is it even necessary?), it really was better left off. The fish was thankfully crispy, again, unlike the fries.

Fionn MacCool's

Haddock sandwich

Service was fine, friendly and competent. But as a whole, Fionn MacCool’s really didn’t distinguish itself from any of its competitors. But I suppose it really isn’t striving to do that anyway – instead, Fionn MacCool’s aims to appeal to those looking for a generic pub, with basic food and a casual atmosphere. We certainly won’t be frequenting the location, but I’m certain its convenient location will enable its success.

Fionn MacCool’s
10200 102A Avenue (Edmonton City Centre Mall)
(780) 424-4330
Monday – Wednesday, 11am – 1am; Thursday – Saturday, 11am – 2am; Sunday, 11am – 1am