Monday, 15 July 2024

Irish love and laughter in Lakeport

What brought the Brennans all the way from New York City to little Lakeport, California? "I didn't choose it," Stephen explains. "It chose me."


He and his wife Jennifer came to Lake County for a five-day fishing trip back in 2004 and, though they hadn't planned to leave empty handed, they also hadn't planned to purchase a Chinese restaurant.
An accident gone accurate, Stephen and Jennifer sort of stumbled into the conception of Molly Brennans. When an employee of Ming's Restaurant mistook them for his 10:30 a.m. appointment, they played along. After undergoing a half-hearted interview and throwing around a half-hearted offer for the place, they headed out.

It was at the airport they learned their "offer" was accepted.
The couple co-owns the pub with Stephen's twin brother Andrew and Sinead, Andrew's wife. After a three-year total renovation, they're still delighted about the misunderstanding and about Lake County.
"It's great to be part of the community," exclaims Jennifer. "To feel needed, to feel like we've added something positive."
Contractor and carpenter by trade, Stephen built all of the establishment's tables, booths, and bar, using a 100-year-old wine vat of which a single piece hangs as a souvenir on the building's original brick wall.
While the pub is fairly snug in size, contributing to the cozy atmosphere, a mirror more than 8 feet long by 8 feet wide hangs on the wall just behind the bar, lending a feeling of openness to the room. For everyone puzzling over the same mystery: How did they get that monster mirror in there? Well, they quite simply tore down the entire door frame to slide it in, and even then it cleared the area by mere millimeters.
A menu distinguished by traditional Irish home cooking, Molly Brennans is open Wednesday through Monday for lunch and dinner, with a champagne brunch served on the weekends.
Fresh rock cod from Ft. Bragg is shipped over throughout the week for one of the menu's highlights. Acclaimed by critics as the "best fish and chips in Lake County" and by others as the "best fish and chips in California," this is just one reason to stop by Molly Brennans.

Another is the 12 beers on tap, mainly microbrews. In addition, Molly Brennans serves an array of Lake County and other regional wines.
And don't forget the ambiance. Local musicians, who intermingle with the customers, play traditional Irish music on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights, as well as Saturday afternoons during brunch.

Coming soon are karaoke and pub quiz night, a tradition in Ireland pubs in which teams are formed to compete in a question-and-answer game.

And for the spring? Molly Brennans will offer Lake County its first beer garden. Says Jennifer: "It'll be outdoor dining for lazy lunches and romantic dinners."
As they do for all holidays, Molly Brennans is making Valentine's Day a special one. The four-course meal begins with an appetizer of mushrooms or oysters, followed by soup or salad, an entree choice of filet mignon or game hen, red lava cake for dessert, and Molly's signature Champagne Sunset Cocktail — all for $32 per person.
Stephen and Jennifer hope to see some new faces for the evening, as well as the familiar ones. "We're grateful for local patronage," she says.
And the patrons are grateful for Molly Brennans. One customer during the interview admitted he had already been to Molly's earlier that day for lunch. Another boasted that Molly Brennans has "brought the Lakeport bar scene to a whole new level."
"Every town needs a good Irish pub," quips Stephen.
And all will agree that the best — the very best — thing about Molly Brennans is nothing other than the Irish wit.
Molly Brennans is at 175 N. Main St. It is open Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Call (707) 262-1600 or visit

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