After checking out the website for Shannon’s Door, we were really looking forward to our visit – a genuine Irish pub within walking distance of our lodging in Jackson, NH. We anticipated an evening of food, drink, entertainment and Irish atmosphere. Instead, we couldn’t get out the door fast enough as soon as we finished our entrees.
The first surprise was no hostess staff. It’s a fairly large and busy place for a “seat yourself” policy. The main dining area was jam packed, so since it was a nice evening, we took an open table on the enclosed, screened deck. We waited 10-15 minutes before being greeted by wait staff. Our drink order took another 15-20 minutes. Half an hour to get a beer in an Irish pub? Not what one expects.
The other major unexpected development was a parade of black ants on our menu, our table, our place setting, ourselves and eventually, in our salad bowl. We asked our waitress if we could speak with the manager, and were informed that she was “extremely busy.” We believe that any manager who is too busy to speak with a customer is in the wrong business, so we repeated the request. In the meantime we noticed that all the wait staff on the deck were busing their own tables, suggesting a reason for the slow service.
Eventually our waitress arrived with our second drink order, followed by a manager. This was nearly an hour into our visit and as we were finishing our entrees. The manager spoke to us while balancing an armful of dirty dishes, as she was also busing tables. We pointed out the ants, and stated sympathetically that the waitress seemed to have more to do than she could keep up with. The manager explained that eating on the deck is like eating outdoors, and ants are part of outdoor dining. She also stated that the staff was working as hard as they could as it was a busy night. She did not grasp our point that the service complaint was that the establishment was understaffed, not that our waitress wasn’t hustling. However since our experience of ants in the salad bowl was of no concern to her, we didn’t waste any more time to restate our complaint over slow service, which was clearly not our waitress's fault.
We finished the food and drinks that were in front of us, paid the check and bailed out. We tipped our usual 20% as we felt the waitress was doing her best under trying circumstances. We would most likely have stayed for dessert and after dinner drinks, to enjoy the live entertainment that had just started. In fact we probably would have run up a bar tab, as it was still early in the evening and we were walking back to our lodging.
On the plus side, the food was good, the place was overall inviting and the entertainment seemed to have potential (we heard only their first two numbers). The plusses were good enough that we might consider a return visit on a less busy night. On the other hand, there are dozens of good restaurants in the area so this disappointing visit could easily turn out to be our one and only.
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