When it opened in September 2011, diners lined up at Kinnee O'Reilly's Irish-themed restaurant-bar in the Montano center in El Dorado Hills (1000 White Rock Road).
With good reason. The place was spacious and expertly decorated, the fare was very good, and the bartenders knew the correct ritual of filling a pint glass with Guinness. I wrote in a review, "The illusion of being in a real Irish pub is startling."
But tastes are fickle and the restaurant business is brutal, and the place closed a few months ago.
Now news comes from veteran restaurateur Richard Righton that he will open a pub-restaurant in that space, his third venture. It will be called 36 Handles, with a target date of Dec. 1 ("Fingers crossed," he said). As the name implies, 36 beers (and a few wines) will be available on tap, along with a full bar specializing in classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and the Old Fashoned.
Righton's other two restaurants are Bidwell Street Bistro in Folsom (916-984-7500, www.bidwellstreetbistro.com) and Relish Burger Bar, also in the Montano center (916-933-3111, www.relishburgerbar.com). Before coming to California, Righton spent eight years running pubs in and around London.
"It's going to be a cross between an Irish pub and an English pub, with a California influence on the menu," he said earlier today.
The splendid decor will remain largely as it was, with the initial addition of dartboards, shuffleboard games and nine TV sets. "And we'll light the firerplaces," he added. "They weren't plugged in."
We got a peek at the developing menu, which so far includes deviled eggs, bacon-wrapped dates, charcuterie plate, jalepeno-bacon mac 'n' cheese, shepherd's pie, three types of fish 'n' chips, bangers 'n' mash, pan-seared salmon, shrimp scampi-style, meatloaf and grilled hanger steak.
Let's see what December brings.