On a Saturday night, Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery is a jungle. The vast majority of patrons are men — some young, some old — all seemingly in heat. And while the behavior of the patrons clearly rests on the shoulders of the individuals, it doesn’t help that the joint is a monument to machismo. Movie posters of Boondock Saints, Braveheart, and Gangs of New York hang alongside portraits of Pierce Brosnan and famed 19th-century boxer Jack Burke (he went 111 rounds in one bout so, of course, he should be paid tribute by being hung next to a Guinness mirror). Capping off this shrine to boilerplate male identity is the waitstaff, a team of devastating young ladies with midriffs bared and fresh-faced breeziness on lock. They’re confident, friendly, and more than happy to take a seat at your table to discuss the menu’s offerings.
With such encouragement, it makes for a scene where men of all ages feel free to stop servers who aren’t working their table to chat; where less attractive wives and girlfriends try not to look at one another while their spouses commisserate over vaguely European food; where one handsome fella endlessly ragged on his paunchier, four-eyed friend in an effort to score points with a waitress. This is corporate cultivation of the patriarchal male done right, which is fortunate because despite having no kid’s menu the Kilt manages to be a scene of intergenerational dining.
Thankfully, a Sunday evening meal isn’t a complete blue-veined aggro fest. My server Monica is delightful and comfortable enough to joke about whether I actually have a date on the way. I can only laugh because, within earshot, there’s a loner on his laptop with a near-empty draft beer and fashion sense that only be described as “Commodore 64.”
The Tilted Kilt can be pleasant during non-mating hours, but barely so. “They turned a kilt into a school-girl outfit,” notes my razor-sharp and beauteous dinner date. We notice that we can face any direction and see televisions ranging from petite to macho macro. Top 40 and Irish folk songs fill the air.
My date describes her Carribean Kilt (a medley of fruit juices and white and dark rums) as, “I’m gonna be drunk before we leave.” It’s a juicy, strong, if un-sweet, concoction. My Raspberry Shandy (light beer plus fruit juices on the rocks) feels like an Irish Sangria; again, not too sweet and easy to down with Old Man Summer creeping ever closer. The quality diverges when entrees arrive. My Danny Boy’s Shepherd’s Pie is piping hot and charming in a mini-stewpot flanked by crusty bread, but the flavor is bland. Ironically, a Flatbread Pizza with artichokes and mushrooms is moist, gooey goodness, the perfect precursor to a carb coma on this fair evening. We’re pleased enough, but not impressed.
Lopsided presentation and uneven deals are overarching themes here. The Sunday crowd is still overwhelmingly male, a mix of working professionals, parents with kids eating grown-up food, bald guys in Tapout shirts, and teen boys with real IDs. “Not one of them is hot,” my date notes. “Not a one.”
Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery
2070 N Loop 1604 E
THE SKINNY: Corporate chain champions hot servers and the uninteresting men who covet them under the guise of Irish culture. Decent if you avoid the crowds.
BEST BETS: The Italian food and specialty drinks
HOURS: 11am-midnight Sun-Thu, 11am-1am Fri-Sat
PRICES: An entrée and a specialty drink for around $20 before tip