Imagine. Who travels to Cologne and then decides to eat in an Irish pub, when there is no shortage of local providers? Well, me, apparently! However, in my defence, we had just arrived that day and were looking for somewhere local to dine. Jameson’s was literally a five-minute walk from our hotel on Magnustrasse.
There are two steps from the pavement to reach the front door, which is wide enough to permit wheelchair access, however, once inside be aware there isn’t a huge amount of room in which to manoeuvre, and there are also further steps into other dining areas set apart from the main floor.
This pub/diner is entirely true to its name and Irish roots. dark mahogany wood seats and tables, display cases of assorted Irish memorabilia and pictures of the old homeland. In the main bar, there is an awesome marquetry style roof, and, frankly, it’s worth a visit just to see this.
The establishment is located in Friesenstrasse, a quiet side street where there are also a selection of other restaurants serving several local hotels. It has a covered outdoor dining area which features heaters, but given that our visit was in December 2018 and the temp hovered just above freezing, eating en plein-air just wasn’t on the cards.
We were lucky having initially visited on a Sunday evening when finding a table was easy. We tried later that week and it was a no go. The place was packed with not a table to be seen – the reason, rather remarkably, was the pub’s quiz night. You also should be aware that this could easily be classed as a ‘sports bar’ featuring, as it does, three large TV screens. At the time of our visit, all were showing different sports, and it was difficult to watch any single one with the overflow of commentaries. They also do karaoke evenings, which like quiz nights are a guaranteed ‘no table without a booking’ evening.
One thing that comes immediately to mind as I write this, is the calibre of staff employed. Some were locals and there was also a smattering of Irish bar and waiting staff, however, all, without exception, were very friendly, welcoming and helpful.
The bar contains what one expects of an Irish pub in Cologne – a good mix of both local and International drinks, including that ubiquitous dark delight – Guinness – and on tap.
In terms of food, it’s very much aimed at the tourist trade, so don’t come in here looking for Michelin quality grub as you’ll be disappointed. We certainly weren’t. far from it in fact. The menu is fairly extensive with a good selection of starters, mains and desserts, and was cheap in comparison to other prices we paid during our weeks stay. The other winning factor for this place is the portion size. Anyone who knows me and my reviews will be fully aware that I tend to come down hard on places which promise the earth and deliver, well, much less! The portions are huge and two of my dining companions were unable to finish their mains. me on the other hand, I ploughed on thinking of you dear reader all the time. Oh, and helpfully, the menu is bilingual, so you can see exactly what you are getting.
You can view the menu here.
So moving to the food. I opted to test drive the mixed starter for two – Jameson’s Chicken Boat. This consisted of: Coconut chicken fingers, chicken fillets in Indian Tikka batter, crispy chicken wings, potato wedges served with garlic mayo and sweet chilli dips, Priced at €11.20, this was a steal, and would easily have fed three people. My two companions, the ever-patient wife and her long-suffering friend decided to choose the soup and potato wedges with cheese options. At the time of our visit, the soup was a homemade tomato. Although the menu says it is served with bread, it actually came with two warmed freshly made rolls. The portion size was more than adequate and my good lady testified to the fact that it was indeed homemade. It was sweet and tangy, with just the right mix of sugars and vinegar to give it a bit of a kick. And at €5.10 was hardly breaking the bank. The potato wedges were a good size, well cooked with a crispy skin but still keeping a nice floury light texture which married well with the cheese, which was strong, but not to the point of being bitter or salty. These were priced at €4.
My chicken mixed starter had a good selection of well-cooked pieces of very tasty, succulent and tender chicken. However, the standout element for me was the coconut fingers. Just very moreish, and I mentioned at the time marrying them with a mango chutney would have been perfection.
It was only at this point I realised my foolishness in opting for the ‘big boy’ starter. Already fairly well full, I ploughed on with one of the house specialities for my main dish – a chicken curry, made with fillet slices, mixed vegetables enrobed in a mildly sweet, korma-like sauce. The menu does allow diners to up the heat level of their curry to fire-breathing strength. Not for me though, and I stuck with the house standard of a mild sauce. At €11.10 this was yet another bargain as a plateful of food was delivered to the table which would have served two people easily. Note to readers, you can opt to ramp up the carbs by selecting half rice and half chips (fries) with your curry. There’s really not much to say about this other than it was an exceptional curry from a pub, and actually better than many I have had in my career from so-called Indian restaurants!
My other half chose the traditional Irish stew and found the bowlful was so large she couldn’t finish it. And in a head-turning first, even I was unable to scoff the remainder – purely for the purposes of food research, you understand. The lamb was Irish according to the menu, and who was I to doubt that statement. It was tender, soft and mouth-wateringly flavoursome, mixed in a lightly herbed gravy filled with potatoes and roughly chopped veg – this was truly a thing of beauty – and reminded me of my own Irish granny’s Sunday dinners. And if the potatoes didn’t give you enough carbs to see you through the week ahead, yet another two of those warmed rolls also arrived on the side. Priced at a very reasonable €12.10, give it a try if you happen to be visiting. Just forget the starter first though.
Diner number three chose the chargrilled chicken and broccoli served in a mushroom sauce with mashed potatoes. Once again, it was a huge plate of food which arrived, and I suppose it was our collective groans which caused the waitresses next statement -“You don’t always need starters here unless you’re really hungry.” Really, we’d never have guessed! Like the Irish stew, I didn’t try the chicken with mushroom either, and dearest Joan, our trusty winter Christmas markets companion didn’t get to the bottom of the plate either. This was a rich and creamy sauce containing fried mushrooms which gave it an extra flavour kick. There was a whole chicken breast used in the portion supplied, which had been cooked to perfection. It was still tender, so much so, it could have been cut with just a fork. Overall the dish worked well with the mashed potato soaking up the excess sauce. A real bargain at €11.70.
Needless to say, we didn’t sample the sweets, although it should be noted there isn’t a huge selection. It was an ice cream sundae, apple strudel or a chocolate brownie which featured on the menu. I assume there isn’t much call for desserts, and definitely not if you’ve gone down the starter and main route.
Do I recommend Jameson’s Distillery Pub – without a doubt. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you’d be foolish not to seek it out if you are in Cologne. I’d doubt very much if you’ll get as good pub food at these prices for such gargantuan portions in very many places.