Dublin 4 Gastropub, Mission Viejo (photos by Eugene Garcia, OC Register)
One afternoon at Dublin 4, I’m feeling conspicuous. I thought I could slip in discreetly and enjoy a quiet lunch. But every time someone walks through the door and takes a seat at the bar, the bartender already knows their name. She knows what they want to drink. They pick up where they left off in previous conversations.
The bartender looks at me with her head cocked. ‘You doin’ all right?” she asks. She’s not sure what to make of this interloper sitting at her bar. But she’s perfectly nice. She smiles and pours me a Guinness. I presume she’s just feeling me out, like any good bartender would, trying to decide whether to come any closer or give me some space.
Dublin 4 is an Irish gastropub tucked into a discreet little complex anchored by Starbucks just off an I-5 exit ramp in Mission Viejo. If this is your inaugural visit, there’s a good chance you’ll drive right past it.
It’s an intimate pub that seats maybe 75, with an elegant hodgepodge of living-room-like chairs, banquette sofas and standard pub tables. Crystal chandeliers dangle throughout the bar, romantically lit…
Mushy peas. Fish and chips. Meat pies. Bangers and mash. This place is the real deal. The owners are Irish transplants, and the chef is David Shofner, formerly the executive chef at French 75 in Laguna Beach.
Shofner’s French training is abundantly clear. He has elevated pub standards beyond bar food. He cures his own pastrami for the Rueben sandwiches, which are excellent, piled high with house-made sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. The burgers, especially the beef but also the lamb, taste as if the meat might be ground in-house from really good chuck or perhaps short rib, something with a good amount of fat. There’s a really nice lamb pie, too, with meat that has been slowly stewed with zinfandel and bits of turnip and pearl onions, crowned with a flaky homemade crust…
This is obviously just a synopsis. Want more? You can read my full review and see the star rating along an extensive slide show by photographer Eugene Garcia in this week’sOC Register. Subscriptions are required. We don’t give away our work for free at the newsstand, nor do we don’t give it away for free online. Everyone gets one week of complimentary trial access, but after that you’ll need to become a subscriber. Or, if you don’t want to subscribe, you can simply buy a Day Pass — cheaper than a cup of coffee — for 24-hour access to the entire OC Register archive.