Kelly’s On Main in Hyannis serves up inventive pub food with an Irish twist.By Colby Radomski
Pubs might be a dime a dozen here on Cape Cod, but Kelly’s On Main has already separated itself from the pack with a menu that pushes the culinary envelope.
The Irish-themed Kelly’s, formerly known as The Compound, isn’t your standard watering hole. “Some Irish bars have a [negative] stigma,” says general manager Mike Gannon. “We did not want to do a full-blown Irish bar.” Gannon and owner Dave Keville, along with Gannon’s girlfriend, Ashley Aceto, sought to create a whole new identity, elevating everything from the menus to making the atmosphere more family friendly. They named the restaurant after its sister restaurant, Kelly’s Cellar, in Quincy as well as Kelly’s Cellars, a well-known bar in Keville’s hometown of Belfast, Ireland.
The team gutted the restaurant and chose a simple design aesthetic that includes clean lines, gleaming hardwood floors and Kelly green walls flanked with black wainscoting. Abundant natural light fills the once dark and unwelcoming space, which now includes a dining room with ample booth and table seating (perfect for groups and families), as well as a separate bar and lounge area with high top tables for more casual dining.
With Keville running the business end of operations, Gannon and Aceto developed a competitively priced menu that’s unique, yet enticing to local palates. Options include a variety of well-executed pub favorites with a modern twist, as well as Irish-themed dishes. On my most recent trip, my dining companion and I sampled several of their offerings. First up was a mouthwatering pile of bone-in chicken wings. Crispy on the outside, yet juicy and tender on the inside, the wings came smothered in a delicious, albeit a little messy, sweet and spicy Sriracha sauce—one of more than 15 ingenious wing sauces available (think Jamaican bacon, maple mustard glaze and Thai curry lime). We also sampled a speciality “RLT” flatbread, an Irish version of a BLT flatbread, made with crispy rashers, lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing. The standout item was definitely the short rib nachos: a heaping pile of melt-in-your-mouth pulled short ribs was served over corn tortilla chips and topped with cheddar jack cheese, sliced cabbage, barbecue and sweet Sriracha sauce, and a generous dollop of chive sour cream.
Other menu highlights include entrees like Ma Kelly’s Irish Chicken (cranberry and candied pecan stuffing-filled chicken that’s wrapped in bacon and topped with a white gravy), sharable small plates (think lobster and lamb sliders), and hearty sandwiches like The Cure (their version of a Cuban sandwich made with housemade pork, baked ham, Kerry Gold Irish reserve cheddar, Dijon mustard and pickles on a grilled pressed roll). Late-night foodies will love the extended-hours menu, which runs until just after midnight every evening.
Like the food, the bar menu is just as impressive and features local brews on tap and handcrafted cocktails mixed with homemade infusions and syrups, and fresh squeezed juice. Nothing is pre-made. Gannon and Aceto even make their own barrel-aged spirits for drinks, like their Negroni (four-month aged Campari, gin and sweet vermouth) and Mai Tai (light and dark rum, fruit juice and secret ingredients aged in a plantation rum barrel for three months).
In addition to what’s on the edible lineup, Kelly’s has a sturdy entertainment schedule featuring local artists and bands, as well as live streaming of sports and pay-per-view events. With St. Patrick’s Day this month and March Madness beginning on the same day, the restaurant will celebrate all week long with Irish food, music and promotions.