McGilvra's: Lunch Break By the Lake

The Place


4234 E. Madison St., 325-0834

Starting today, we're putting a new spin on Versus. Instead of comparing two similar dishes from two different restaurants, we're going to walk into a restaurant, order their top two most popular items and then pick our favorite. This way, we'll not only have more dishes to chose from, but restaurants as well. We don't want to limit ourselves to just one cuisine; we want to taste what these establishments do best. Hopefully, this new format will give you a better taste of our city's food scene, and what dishes help define it.

This week, we headed to McGilvra's in Madison Park for a leisurely lunch on the water to help cool us off in the scorching weather. What used to be Sorellas is now a charming little Irish pub that serves as a great escape for a hot summer Seattle day. Here, you can sit out on the patio overlooking Lake Washington while you bathe in a menu filled with draft beers and typical pub fare. McGilvra's has it all, from pizzas to sandwiches to soups, salads, hot wings, nachos, Guinness beef stew and shepherds pie. But which items do the best job of whetting the appetites of customers year round?

Beef almost as dry as Broadmoor's mahjong club.
The Rivals

McGilvra's Burger ($9)

This hand-formed beef patty is served with cheddar cheese, avocado, bacon and mayo on a toasted kaiser roll. For an extra buck, you can sub in a chicken or veggie patty. We went for the full beef experience because, well, that's what most people order at McGilvra's. We were expecting a whopper of a burger. What we got was a slightly overcooked patty as well as bacon strips. It wasn't bad -- the burger was still really good -- but it did detract from the full flavor enjoyment of what had the potential to be a near perfect burger. As a side note: the fries were flipping amazing. Cooked and seasoned to perfection. Not a single one was left resting on our plate.

The bread didn't do much to dampen our spirits.
Reuben ($9)

The Reuben comes with a generous helping of house-roasted corned beef, sliced and grilled with sauerkraut and topped with melted Swiss cheese and a zippy sauce piled high between toasted rye. This sandwich does not disappoint. It's full of flavor and just the right amount of sauce. The corned beef is tender and juicy and isn't so overwhelming that it spills out of your bread causing a messy multiple-napkin situation. Our only complaint is that the bread could have been toasted a little more; the extra char would have kept the bread from getting soggy on one side as it sat on the plate waiting to be eaten.

The Champ

We enjoyed both lunch entrees tremendously. Sure, it would have been even better if our beers arrived cold and not room temperature (or $5.75 for a pint of Harp). But to McGilvra's credit, it must have been a thousand degrees in the non-air conditioned restaurant over the weekend. Had the meat on our burger come a little less cooked, this would have been a more difficult call. The Reuben wins this challenge.

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