Amuse-Bouche: Hercules Mulligan’s

The man, the legend.

I know, I know, you’re wondering the same thing I was: who is Hercules Mulligan, anyway? According to the website Who Was Hercules Mulligan, Anyway?, he was the son of an Irish immigrant and basically a badass patriot during the American Revolution who coaxed juicy tyrannical deets from British soldiers, then tattled on them to President Washington himself. Today, he remains a kind of cult figure who inspires websites like Who Was Hercules Mulligan, Anyway?

Another such homage is Thayer Street’s newest addition, which sits atop Soban in the space that formerly housed Marley’s. Like the original Mr. Mulligan, it packs a big dose of patriotism, reflected in both its hodgepodge of a menu and its avid fandom of the New England football team. Also like the original Mr. M, it’s true to its Irish heritage: giant barrels of Guinness stand in as bar tables, and Flogging Molly blasts through the speakers at all hours and unspeakable decibel levels.

But the restaurant itself is a mutt, evidenced by the abundance of Irish favorites like shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash amidst Caprese salad and pistachio-crusted salmon. Asian food finds a strange home in there, too: spring rolls come stuffed with corned beef, Swiss, and sauerkraut. Likewise, nachos are “Irish-ized” with the addition of potato chips and Irish bacon, as is BBQ sauce with Jameson whiskey. Drinks-wise, there’s a great rotation of beers on tap, plus $3 ‘Gansetts (cool) and the requisite pint of Guinness. Vegetarians: there’s a veggie burger and requisite pasta dish, but you’re probably better off elsewhere.

Bangers and mash, complete with Guinness gravy.

While I can’t really make heads or tails of the Irish spring rolls, the food’s pretty solid. Greasy, starchy, stomach-padding food such as this runs the gamut; grease sometimes eclipses everything else so all you taste are salt and calories (which both have their place, and that place is Jo’s). To pay ~$10 for it in a real restaurant is to gamble that what you get will taste like it was made with real ingredients, by a real person, in a real kitchen.

All can be said of the food at Herc’s. Sure, nothing you get will be the best version you’ve ever had of that thing, but that’s the nature of eating at an American-Chinese-Mexican-Italian-BBQ Irish pub. All the same, we are in college; places like this are born to be our old standbys. It’s a fun place to go with friends for choose-your-own-adventure dining from the incredibly extensive menu, binging on icy cold and affordable beer (isn’t that a beautiful combination of words?), and satisfying-if-not-enlightening eats.

High: Herc’s rounds out the repertoire of Thayer Street eats quite nicely. It’s a great place to go in big groups, with picky eaters, and/or with drunk people: between the mainstays and the constantly updated specials, there’s something for everyone (unless you’re macrobiotic/vegan/crazy, in which case you, my friend, are up a creek). And for all the food you get, the price is right.

Low: Point blank, there is no excuse for an Irish restaurant to have meh mashed potatoes, but this one does (kinda just like a potato smoothie). This won’t be the best meal of your life, and you probably won’t be inspired to drag your parents by the wrists next time they’re offering you a free meal out.

Bottom line: Imagine a stoned person sat down and wrote the greatest hits of greasy food from across the globe. Voila, for better and for worse: Hercules Mulligan’s.

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