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Maggie May’s: Irish pub formula comforts in Bayside

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Maggie May's menu was the first one we have encountered that actually offers "freedom fries" and "freedom onion soup." "Freedom onion soup?" we asked our server. "It's actually French," she confided, without a trace of irony. We ordered it, and were rewarded with an excellent bowl of onion soup loaded with chunky onions and gratineed with plenty of cheese.The Maryland crab cakes were equally admirable, nice and crabby and fresh, although the accompanying white sauce could have done with a bit more zip.Our pasta choice was one of the low points of our meal. We chose a special, the farfalle (bowties) with crabmeat, eggplant and zucchini with a pink sauce. Disappointingly, this dish had all the taste and texture of spaghetti-o's. The overcooked pasta and overly rich sauce combined to make a perfect meal for a dentally impaired invalid.Entrees are served with a salad, mixed vegetables and a choice of potato. The creamy garlic dressing we chose for our salad was one of the pleasant surprises of our meal. Served on the side without asking, it was supremely garlicky. It was a salad dressing to be remembered.The grilled seafood platter of filet of sole, scallops and shrimp was adequate, if unmemorable.With Maggie May's being an Irish pub and all, it seemed sensible to order what the menu described as a 16-oz., Dublin-style steak. We were presented with a perfectly lovely, unadorned grilled strip steak, cooked exactly to the degree of doneness requested. We sank our teeth into the tender, juicy, flavorful steak - a better steak than we had been served in some steak houses with pretensions. Steak heaven, really. But then we remembered that we had ordered a Dublin-style steak and the menu had described it as having a sauce and fried onions. We called this to the attention of our server, who promptly returned it to the kitchen for its advertised enhancements. What reemerged was our divine steak covered in glop. The sauce was a thick gravy that had been doctored with sickly sweet barbecue sauce. It was topped with a mound of thinly shredded fried onions that might have been enjoyable if they hadn't made contact with the ghastly sauce. We enthusiastically recommend the Dublin steak with one emphatic caveat: tell them to hold the sauce. If you're curious, ask for it on the side, but whatever you do, don't let them put it on your steak.The dessert menu at Maggie May's is short and sweet - very sweet. The wine list is well chosen and priced with very good value at the lower end. The service is on the ball.The Bottom LineMaggie May's in Bayside adheres to the tried and true Irish pub formula. The decor is cheerily typical of Irish pubs everywhere and the menu, for the most part, follows suit. There are very few surprises and if you stick to basics, you'll get what you came for. It won't be an opportunity to expand your culinary horizons, but you will have a soul satisfying, rib sticking meal without pretensions. Bottoms up.Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger's restaurant critic and author of "Eating Like Queens, a Guide to Ethnic Dining in America's Melting Pot, Queens New York." She can be reached by e-mail at qnsfoodie@aol.com.Maggie May's214-22 41st Ave., Bayside718-224-9898Cuisine: Pub grubSetting: Irish pubishService: Attentive and accommodatingHours: Lunch and dinner daily, Sunday brunchReservations: OptionalAlcohol: Full BarParking: StreetDress: CasualChildren: WelcomeTakeout: Yes, no menuCredit Cards: No!Noise Level: AcceptableHandicap Accessible: YesA Sample From The Menu"Freedom" onion soup...$3.95Maryland crab cakes...$8.95Shrimp cocktail...$8.95Broiled seafood platter...$14.95Dublin steak...$15.95Chocolate mousse pie...$3.95

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