The Irish pub experience is one that evokes lots of talking, lots of music, good sturdy food and plenty of wonderful beer. The Celtic Ray provides all of this and more.
This place has a checkered history, having started as a small corner pub with (a) ONLY imported beers, and (b) NO TV. It was given a two percent chance of success and within a short while it was packed every day with people who wanted the talk, the music, the food and the beer.
The owner will admit to having made a few (well, maybe more than a few) bad business decisions and it is enough to say that the Ray went through some very difficult times. A large expansion was underway and the adjacent building was being rebuilt when Hurricane Charlie came into the picture. The Ray never closed, but the post-hurricane period involved some new ownership (thankfully temporary) and the eventual return of the original owner. Some years later the Ray is now several times larger (the addition was finally completed in 2012) and there are multiple restrooms, a second floor, a larger kitchen, and even a small stage for the entertainment. There is outside seating in the front and back, and it is all an extraordinary mishmash of old, new, beat-up, and comfortable.
The beers are (almost) all imported ... don't even think about asking for a Bud Light or a Mich Ultra ... and there are maybe thirty beers/ales/ciders on tap. It also has a full liquor license so you can enjoy a "pinch with your point".
The original section is unchanged from opening day, a curious patchwork of what-nots.
The food includes the bangers, pies, pasties, curries (including a very nice vindaloo) and terrific fish and chips. Toasties, leek soup, scotch eggs and mushy peas are also on the menu. And finally, the Celtic Ray has the best French Fries anywhere! That's a fact.
There are no wait staff and you must order food at the bar. (This actually puts off some stuffy people who believe that they should always be waited on at the table. But really, the world is better off without them anyway.)
The music is varied but includes a lot of returning groups, like Boston's Celtic Clan (the house band for the Black Rose), Brigid's Cross, Brendan Nolan, and many many more. There's a variety of blues, jazz and funk besides traditional Irish music, plus comedy nights and an open mike night (Sundays).
The Celtic Ray is one of the very best of its kind (whatever that is), anywhere. It is the neighborhood local, the place to meet for the best beers and ales, the comfortable place for good company, a reliable place for good food, and an inviting place for plenty of fun. Visitors to the area should not ever miss the Celtic Ray when they are in town. That would be a real shame.
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