The Wishing Well is not generally the kind of place you that comes to mind when you think of Boca Raton. It’s a slightly scruffy spot in a town better known for its strict building code and expensive eateries of the toned and tanned crowd. The place has new owners: local firefighters who have maintained the spare, dark space, complete with Guinness and other beverage signage, TVs showing English Premier League and a darts room, but now there’s a food menu to compliment the bar offerings.
It’s a single-page menu (plus nightly specials on the chalkboard) and it’s mostly classic “pub grub” such as fish and chips, bangers and mash, Guinness beef stew, shepherd’s pie and a corned beef sandwich (classic or Reuben). But there are also a few items that are clearly crowd favorites, including the burger sliders, the cider-roasted chicken, a house salad and soup and chicken wings.
Let’s start with those wings: ordered mild, the scent of their arrival at the table was announced in a sinus-clearing blast of spice and heat. But after one wing was consumed, it was a different story. They were less hot and spicy than expected, perfectly fried and fine with or without the accompanying blue cheese dip. And unlike many restaurants that offer chicken wings so large they look steroid-assisted, these were a normal size and actually tasted like chicken.
Main dishes tried included the stew, the shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash and the fish and chips. The fish was a single plate-covering fillet, served with excellent fries. That single piece of fish is a good sign; it means the owners are using whole fish, not bits pieced together. The stew had an assertive but not overwhelming taste of Guinness, plus perfectly cooked meat and vegetables. The pie was classic ground meat, peas, potatoes and gravy, a filling and satisfying dinner. And aside from a slight dryness in the mash, the bangers were just right – crispy skin from grilling and dense, well-seasoned meat.
Service was attentive and fast, with glasses kept full, napkins supplied and the owner coming by to make sure all was well. This establishment is still a work in progress, and might not be the one you go to on a first date, or to impress the boss. But for European beers on tap and simple, affordable pub food (nothing over $20) that compliments the brews, this is a laid-back break from the usual Boca scene. And if you are a Notre Dame Football fan, there’s a fan club that meets here on game Saturdays.
Near the door, there’s a sign that says "Céad Mile Fáilte", which translates to “a hundred thousand welcomes.” It’s a classic Gaelic greeting, and appropriate for this classic Irish pub.
The Wishing Well, 111 SE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton, FL. Phone (561) 750-1208 Open nightly. Live music is a regular feature here. Take out and outdoor seating is available.