The Dish: sautéed Alaskan halibut

The Location: McGinty’s Public House, 911 Ellsworth Drive, Silver Spring, (301) 587-1270.

The Price: $22.50

The Skinny: Not every plate we sample is so hot. So in the name of service journalism, we offer an occasional Not Plate. If a Holiday Inn took one of its boxy white-washed conference rooms and added wood accents, a bar, and few TVs to it, it’d look something like McGinty’s Public House, a drab Irish pub in downtown Silver Spring. McGinty’s menu, with its oysters and shrimp cocktail and oven-roasted chicken, doesn’t exactly remind one of Dublin, either. But I chalk that up to an establishment desperately trying to peddle an Irish concept in an age when the potato is practically Public Enemy No. 1. So, on a recent visit, I kept my composure and ordered a pint of Smithwick’s and the saut�ed Alaskan halibut, which the menu noted was served with a “vin blanc sauce,” wild mushrooms, asparagus, and wilted spinach. The main feature of the dish, however, was completely unadvertised: a Mississippi flood of broken butter-and-cream sauce, without a trace of vin blanc or any sort of acid to cut through all that fat. The sauce slapped the shores of my four-cornered plate, coating everything in its tide of yellow goo—the saut�ed button mushrooms (not wild), the asparagus (all three spears, two with their tips cut off), the spinach (warmed, not wilted), and the moist-but-flavorless halibut. When I complained to the waitress about the dish, she admitted, with remarkable understatement, that it “didn’t look right.” She charged me only half-price for the fish, which was still half too much.