The logo for The Leary Traveler pub is an explorer with a feather in his cap riding an elephant. He hoists a beer mug in one hand and teeters on the elephant’s back as if he had one pint too many and somehow wound up in Delhi on his way home from a corner pub in Dublin. The restaurant/bar itself has a delightfully disorienting approach to food and drink that is only accentuated by its location along a nondescript stretch of road between the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods known as “Frellard.”
The cheeky formality of the bartender on the night I went added to the sense that maybe I’d landed somewhere not quite on the map.
“Is there a cocktail in your future?” he asks one patron. “Should we discuss your beverage needs or shall I just execute?” he says to someone who appears to be a regular. “Do you surrender?” he asks as I swallow the last bite of my whopping sandwich.
“Born to be Wild” and other rock anthems blast from the speaker system. The big-screen TVs are tuned to All-American baseball. Meanwhile, the woman next to me goes into a state of ecstasy over her tzatziki-smothered falafel dish.
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Your cultural compass will go haywire, but there’s no reason to be leary. It’s all in good fun.
The menu: For a small, neighborhood joint, The Leary Traveler boasts a surprisingly sizable menu featuring fancy pub grub from around the world. Steak frites ($15), poutine ($9), corned-beef on rye ($13), cauliflower and spinach curry ($10), seasonal beggars purses made of stuffed phyllo pastry ($8) and the aforementioned falafel ($11) highlight the lunch/dinner menu. Brunch features corned-beef hash ($9), eggs Benedict ($9), Italian and Greek scrambles ($10) and Belgian waffles ($8).
What to write home about: Any sandwich that leads the server to ask, “Are you sure? It’s big,” is worthy of note, in my book. The tender, addictive Argentine roast-pork sandwich ($12) came as billed, with a healthy topping of chimichurri sauce, garlic aioli, onions and tomatoes. The server couldn’t believe I ate the whole thing, but I couldn’t help myself.
The setting: The small room, decorated with travel-themed tchotchkes and contemporary paintings, is divided between a friendly bar on one side and tables and chairs or stools on the other, with a shelf of board games for patrons who want to stay a while. There’s also a patio out back.
Summing up: Argentine roast pork sandwich and fries, along with an Ommegang Hennepin saison ale came to $20.87 plus tip.
Tyrone Beason: firstname.lastname@example.org