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Wilde Rover Grand Opening...not impressed!

Wilderoveropensign I was excited to see Wilde Rover, a new Irish pub/restaurant, going into the old Waimea Brewing  location (the old Roasters spot) on Central Way.   I was so excited I called the owners a few times to get an early story about them prior to their opening--thinking I could help get the word out a bit with a nice post on the blog.  They just didn't want to talk to me and wouldn't give me the time of day.  They said they would call me back, but never did.  Strike one! Janis even called and tried to get me in the door to their grand opening party (invite only).  Strike two!

This left us with only one option.  Wait until they open and just go check it out for ourselves.   So we did--twice.   We went in with high hopes and really wanting to like the place.  Janis and I love a good Irish pub, like Fado down by Pioneer Square

Here is the opening report card:

  • Outside look and feel, including signage = A (they did a nice job here)
  • Inside look and feel = C+ (most Irish bars feel cozy, and have lots of little private areas and an Irish pub feel.  They added some dark wood, but it's still a bunch of big rooms just like Roasters was)
  • Food = D- (It's just bland and heavy, but the Irish were never known for their food.  We ordered Bangers and Mash and Lamb Stew.  Both  dishes were over $12 and didn't impress)
  • Service = C+ (a few mistakes were made, but I am giving them a C+ because as the mistakes were being made everyone was very nice and trying to be helpful. Besides, it's new so they're just getting the hang of it).
  • Music= B- (lots of fun Irish tunes that make you want to River Dance. Then there's a random American 80's song thrown in to keep you guessing. One night it was so loud I had to holler to be heard)
  • Entertainment = Grade TBD (we were there for an early dinner and didn't get to see any of the live music which will be a feature of the pub. It looked cool driving by on other nights, and to their credit, the place seems to stay crowded.)

Wilderoverinside OK, don't get me wrong.  I want to see them do great.   At this point I would definitely say it's a good place to meet a lot of friends (plenty of space), shoot some pool, listen to some live  music, and drink a Guinness!  With that said, I am not giving them a strike three just yet.  I am going to go back one more time and encourage a few of my buddies to meet me there for a cold one.   Hopefully things will improve and our experience will be positive.   

Anyone else been there yet and have an opinion?  Please comment here.    Steve 


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RC Moonpie

Was there for happy hour second day of operation. Actually good food! Looking forward to going back when the chaos of being a new business has subsided.

Eve M.

We went a few days after they opened. I thought it was amusing that they had pretty much just replaced the Hawaiian kitsch of Waimea Brewing Co. with Irish/Oscar Wilde kitsch.

We found the service erratic too -- obviously just growing pains. They had devised a limited menu since the kitchen wasn't up to speed yet; they said they hadn't anticipated the early heavy interest. Okay.

I ordered lamb stew, which I thought was fine for what it was. Can't remember what my husband ordered. We also got a few extra slices of soda bread. Indeed the food was bland and heavy, but as you say that's what Irish food is all about. However, since I was splurging on the soda bread (normally I try to stay away from that many carbs, but it's hard at a place like this!), I have to say that it's not as good as the version I (used to) make. Too dense and flavorless, so a bit of a disappointment.

The bar seemed to be doing a rip-roaring business already. I doubt it's possible for there to be too many pubs in downtown Kirkland; the demand is apparently endless.

I'll probably go again to try more of the main menu eventually (and maybe it's a good thing that the soda bread won't tempt me too much now that I've already tried it).


I couldn't disagree more with the review....I have been to Wilde Rover twice and had fabulous experiences. The staff is attentive and the food is excellent, we all came away stuffed because we couldn't stop eating, including dessert, which was impressive!! (had to work out twice the next day!!ouch) The topping on the Shepards pie is divine! I, also, had the lamb stew, it being the 'traditional' Irish dish, it was the best I've ever had, including when I was in Ireland!! And talking about being in Ireland, I did some serious 'research' on pubs when I was there! You missed the mark on that one. The atmosphere at Wilde Rover is indeed authentic. It conveys the warmness and welcome I remember (and miss!) from Ireland. Wilde Rover will be my first choice to gather with a large or small group of friends! Wilde Rover fills a much needed niche in Kirkland!


Alright Violet. What is your Wilde Rover employee ID number?

Real Irish

So Irish food is bland and heavy. Would that explain why you don't see too many obese Irish people around? Curious as to how many real Irish pubs you have been in. As someone born and raised in Ireland, Wilde Rover is the first pub I've come across in the US which is actually a real Irish pub. I guess because the owner isn't catering to what Americans think Irish pubs should be and rather to what an Irish pub really is.

Barry C

Au Contraire,

Despite the standard "ABC@D" ratings, I am personally voting with an "R" for "Real".

The "Wilde Rover" is as 'Real' an Irish pub as can be found.

The "Rover" is in my humble opinion the premier venue in Washington State for ambience and decor, friendly conversation, a relaxing and warm environment, and this along with great food, music, and entertainment.

Editorial reviews are oft' based on the spur of a moment in time. As a local, I trust that this venue will be here until we regulars become old or the Guinness runs out.



E Duck

Who the fock are Steve and Janis anyway? If they like a $hite joint like Fado and not a real pub like this, then you have an idea where their review comes from. I could just seem them plopping down in the middle of the bar and then spreading out. The ugly American strikes again.

Forget their comments and try the Rover for yourselves. Some lunch, a good pint, and a World Cup football match in June would be a great time to start.

Plus you never review a restaurant the first month. Of course they are working out the kinks. Refining the staff. Why do you people always have to be in a rush to be the first to review something. Get in there early mate. Have my comments. Listen to me, listen to meeeeeeeeee.........I am important. Stupid Americans I tell ya. You could learn something from the Brits about being patient.



tim o'tae

the wilde rover is the only irish pub i know of that during the build out the only minority group on site was one american guy, the rest were all paddys.
hows that for authenticity.
is maith liom an wilde rover
tiochfaid ar la mo chara's

my names tim o'tae, and i wash me hair everyday

Grover Dill

I have been to the Wilde Rover twice; once for lunch and once for drinks on a Friday night. The lunch was excellent, although the prices are a bit high for pub food. Friday night was hoppin', and the Irish bartender truly knew what he was doing. Hopefully this place will be a Kirkland mainstay.

Cheryl O'Connor

We just got back from the Pub and had a marvelous time. First of all it's raining sideways on Memorial Day weekend, so we couldn't think of a better place to have dinner than an Irish Pub. We all had the traditional drinks: a wheee guiness, harp and Jamesons irish whiskey. Our server, Paul, was great even if he didn't have an Irish brogue.

Tops on the list of foods were the fish and chips and the lamb stew. Okay, so I've sampled many french fries and these were among the best: crispy on the outside and hot and mushy on the inside. I haven't been there for the music yet, but I'll definitely be getting a babysitter and heading back to the pub for some spirits, fish & chips, gab and music.

j brocker

Wow!!! What a terrible review! I am not irish, but you don't need to be to know the feel of a good pub. This place rocks and I will be coming in as often as I can. The lamb stew and the bangers and mash are great to!


I love you blog and excited I stumbled across it when picking up greek food tonight. We are also Kirkland residents with 2 kids and LOVE living here.

I was immediately fond of your blog when I read the review of Wilde Rover. I too was excited about the opening, love the idea of an Irish pub in Kirkland and agree - NOT IMPRESSSED! You were generous on your review of the food - I'd give it a D at best. And the service was pretty bad as well. Unfortunately it's only a matter of time before we say good bye to another Kirkland restaurant.

Thank you for the blog. I'll be logging on for updates.

Eve M.

It's fascinating that this review has been so controversial.

Since I wrote a comment above with a lukewarm/negative take, I thought it only fair to add an update: I checked, and my husband recalled that he had the shepherd's pie the night we were there. He loved it, and thought the soda bread was also great.

vanessa's dad

Really? Wait, Vanessa??? Oh..........Janice's
daughter! Thats right.....Oh well, Im going to give the Rover an A+. The food was EXACTLY what Irish food is supposed to be. Not Americanized for all of the guys that know nothing about Irish food. Keep up the good work guys! Dont know where you sat Vanessa, maybe you should try the bartop. They are very good for only working back there a short time.


Wilde Rover Irish Pub & Restaurant seeking an experienced and passionate Chef/KM. We are located in the heart of Kirkland just above Moss Bay Marina. We have 2 dining rooms, banquet room, two patios and a full service bar. We are very hands on owners and expect the same of our leaders and managers. If you are passionate about food service and leading employees and an effective business manager we want to hear from you.

-Food and Supply Cost Management
-Food and Supply Inventory Management
-Labor Cost Management
-Training, scheduling and leading all BOH employees
-Health Department Regulation Management
-Menu management and Recipe Creation
-Banquet Preparation and Management

-A minimum of 5 years in a similar position with similar responsibilities
-Progressive and stable work history
-Proven track record of success in the position applying for
-Proven ability to lead and manage a high volume kitchen ($80,000.00++month)
-An effective speaker and a true leader
-Love what you do and the people who help you get it done!!

-Salary (negotiable)
-Medical and Dental benefits after 90 days
-Cost management bonus
-Banquet bonus

Please respond to this ad by contacting Benjamin Pittman by email at , fax to 425.822.8945 or telephone to 425.822.8940.


Job location is Kirkland, WA

Compensation: See above

no -- Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.

yes -- Phone calls about this job are ok.

no -- Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

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All very interesting opinions;of the good reviews its interesting that they are so passionate "the wilde rover is the only irish pub i know of that during the build out the minority group on site was one american guy, the rest were all paddys."
I agree with Janis;sounds like the owners
don't like the truth about what they think is Irish food.
Anyway looks like they are looking for professional help in kitchen;lets hope they get it!
Another of the comments about ugly and stupid Americans;remember lads we are all imigrants to the U.S.unless you hail from a native tribe,like it or not thats who is paying the rent!
Irish food being bland is an incorrect assumption;just look at some of the great chefs to come out of Ireland in the last 15yrs.
Anyway having eaten the food in WR I wholeheartedly agree the food is bland;but not because its Irish.

Belfast Billyboy

Once more we have another "Irish" pub that proves to be a cold house for Ulster Unionists. As a long term Eastside resident of from the Ulster loyalist/unionist tradition. I went to the WR a few days after opening.
The place is bedecked with Republican regalia honoring dead Republican murderers and terrorists. From the Irish Proclamation to pictures of Michael Collins the place wreaked of terror. Post 9/11 there is no place for this wanton glorification of men of terror. Perhaps all is not lost, I suggest some neutral Irish icons could adorn the wall, images of Van Morrison or George Best perhaps?



I can't believe my ears, I thought I'd left the way too familiar vitriolic loyalist bile behind me when I left Ulster. Now, even here in Seattle's Eastside,we have a poisonous comment from another mindless little orange twat. American is a place where all cultures, even Irish, are accepted without question, so if you can't shake off your bigoted ideals when commenting on the WR then go drink your pint elsewhere !!!
WR needs a few cosy snugs, some decent menu options and better staff. The Irish novelty will soon wear off if these issues are not corrected. Sort it out lads and don't let a great opportunity go to waste.

A pint of plain is yer only man.



I've never been to Ireland and so I don't care how authentic it is. The food is good, the beer is good, and the people are great, plain and simple.


I follow and concur with Billy’s points like the Lagan hugs the rolling hills of Ulster.
The welcome mat is not extended to loyal brethren in hostelries such as this. The narrow monocultural iconography used to define Irishness in the US smacks of Paddywackery in its crassest form. Oh aye and the food is awful.

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