In the modern American restaurant landscape, Irish pubs are so ubiquitous that it takes a lot to set one apart from any Molly’s, Flaherty’s, or O’Malley’s on any street corner anywhere. Hannegan’s Restaurant & Pub in downtown St. Louis may have been good for an undiscerning, casual lunch eater in 1988, but for anyone else, there’s nothing to make it rise above mediocrity. To start, there is a service problem. My waiter at Hannegan’s got to the point of callousness in his lack of concern for my party’s satisfaction, as he never stopped to ask if he could get us anything and furthermore seemed less than eager to remedy the situation when I pointed out the painfully noticeable fingerprints all over my water glass. The décor of the interior is not horrible, and that’s a shame, because it has almost all of the character and elegance of my friend Jim’s shed. To be fair, the spacious room and comfortable seat cushions are probably the most redeeming aspects of Hannegan’s.
The menu is full of the standard fare for this kind of place, which is located in a fairly large tourist area of St. Louis. It’s sandwiches and soups and some barbecue and that kind of thing, which is all perfectly fine, but at Hannegan’s, it seems like little imagination was involved in either the recipe or the preparation. I had the chicken club panini, which didn’t do much for me besides make me not hungry anymore. That’s the problem with the food: it’s not aggressively bad, just bland and unimaginative, and it’s disappointing that that’s such a solvable problem.
I wouldn’t go back to Hannegan’s because there are so many other great food options in St. Louis. It’s a fine, benign place to go and have a drink, I suppose, but there’s no reason to have a real meal. If you go to two dozen restaurants in St. Louis, still, don’t go to Hannegan’s.