Tourist Spot

Harp and Hound Irish Pub – NECN


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For those who have traveled the back roads of Ireland, discovering an old country pub in the middle of nowhere is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Stepping into a warm and welcoming establishment with a fireplace, old wooden tables and a bar only meant for socializing is one of those experiences you will remember long after you say your goodbyes.

It’s no secret that traditional Irish pubs can be found in many parts of New England – including a number of communities in eastern Massachusetts where Irish immigrants settled – and although some are a bit touristy and others look like the types of large urban pubs found in Dublin and Galway, if you look closely you can find some that look like these rural pubs from villages like Doolin, Clifden and Adare including one in an unlikely place: a popular tourist spot along the Connecticut coast.

But the old seaside village of Mystic does indeed have some gems off the beaten track, and The Harp and Hound is certainly one of them.

It is a little known fact that Mystic is not actually a town, but is part of two separate communities, Stonington and Groton. The dividing line is along the Mystic River, which cuts the village in two. Mystic’s main shopping section is in Groton, to the west of the river (and the impressive drawbridge that crosses it), and it is home to a number of popular restaurants, bars, and other dining venues, including both on West Main Street and Water Street.

The Harp and Hound can also be found on this side of the river, in a very old structure (believed to be 300 years old) just off West Main on Pearl Street, which is primarily a residential road with magnificent old houses all over it. length. Unsurprisingly, the pub is easy to miss, especially since much of the activity in and around Mystic is concentrated on Main Street, Pearl Street, and the section just north of downtown that houses the museum. Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium.

From the outside, The Harp and Hound looks a bit understated, but it wouldn’t be out of place on a country road in Ireland. The interior retains the feel of a rural pub, and this should come as no surprise, as the owner of the establishment is from Ireland and has furnished the space using items brought in from the Emerald Isle, including run down furniture, the bar itself, and those old classic road signs you see all over the country.


If it’s a conversation you want, you can sit down at the bar and chat with the locals and the people behind the bar, while high and low tables are located in the rest of the space, including near the fireplace to the rear. The wooden beamed ceilings and stone columns add to the traditional feel, as does the cozy room near the entrance which has a small library.


While Mystic is known for its seafood restaurants, The Harp and Hound’s menu is more of a mix of Irish and Irish-American fare, as well as pub fare and comfort food (although some seafood is also available). Some of the offerings include hot pretzel sticks served with a tangy mustard sauce; a classic New England clam chowder; homemade fried pickle chips with smoked aioli; a plate of Irish cold cuts accompanied by Irish farmhouse blue cheese, prosciutto, goat cheese, crackers and toast; both a hot corned beef sandwich and a reuben, both with lean (but not too lean) corned beef; a beer-battered fried cod sandwich with lettuce and tomato; grilled tacos with bangers (Irish sausage), mashed potatoes and lots of brown gravy; a whiskey burger named after a side dish of whiskey ketchup; and some traditional main dishes such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, chicken fillets and curry fries, Guinness stew topped with puff pastry and a shepherd’s pie “upside down” that has mashed potatoes on it. the bottom, the meat, peas, carrots and onions “frizzled” on top of each other, and a well created on top for the brown sauce. Finally, one of The Harp and Hound’s dessert options is absolutely to blame: a cake-like cookie covered in lots of chocolate frosting.


The drink options at The Harp and Hound are what you would expect from an old Irish pub. If you like perfectly poured pints of Guinness they certainly make them here – and if you want something a little lighter the pub also has Smithwick’s, a classic Irish red ale that’s super easy to drink. A number of other beers are also served here, including offerings from local breweries such as OLBC (Groton), Two Roads (Stratford), Blue Point (Patchogue on Long Island), and Whalers (South Kingstown, Rhode Island). And, of course, being an Irish pub, you can order mild tasting Jameson or other Irish whiskeys, maybe a scotch or two or, if you need to wake up a bit, a classic Irish coffee.


If this is your first time visiting Mystic and looking for lobster, fried clams, oysters, etc., it’s understandable that you forget a place like The Harp and Hound. But for those who like the vibe of a welcoming old pub and are more interested in a local hangout than a tourist fare, you can’t beat this place. Considering that Mystic is right off Interstate 95, it’s a great lunch stopover for those traveling between Boston and New York City, as it’s pretty close to the halfway point between them.

Whatever your reason for leaving, you will surely fall in love with The Harp and Hound, especially if you yearn for the wonderful atmosphere of the rural watering holes of the Old Country.

The Harp and Hound, 4 Pearl Street, Mystic, CT, 06355. harpandhound.com

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