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70 years of tradition

Cozied into a booth over a plate of good honest mashed potatoes and turkey tips on a wintry day at Cronin’s Publick House makes life feel like a simpler and slower experience than it does in the wired world outside.

Located just up a side street from the once mighty Fore River Shipyard, Cronin’s has been in continuous operation as a pub since 1938.

In those 70-plus years, the unpretentious eatery has had six owners, six names, and plied generations of locals with food, drink, and refuge through many an era.

Owner Margaret Cronin has been at the helm, now, going on 21 years and has covered the walls with various photos (including those of many Boston sports greats) and murals of the Irish countryside. We were soothed into the nice, dark cave of a place on both our recent visits by the lovely vibe of Peggy Cronin, Margaret’s daughter, who’s worked the pub for the twenty years it’s been in her family, and two prior to that, when it was “owned by a family friend.”

The simple menu is augmented with a few daily specials. And, while Cronin’s isn’t trying to do anything high end, what it does, it does well.

I tried four of the pub’s homemade soups – two specials and two standard menu items — and found three of them perfectly satisfying. The special Italian wedding soup (which led with a parmesan flavor); the Cajun chicken (funny to find okra in an Irish pub soup); and the spicy sausage (packed with good greens) were each hearty with veggies, rich broths, and tasty meats. At $2.25 a cup (with a roll), you can’t beat them. (I didn’t like the flavor of the clam chowder.)

The fried clams (with bellies) in the (big) fried clam roll special ($10) were better than I’ve had in many a New England seaside shack, which is to say, very good. The homemade coleslaw was tasty too – not that sweet stuff you find places. Only the tartar sauce could have been better – but then I would have eaten them all, and where would that have left me?

Instead, we moved on to main courses: The pub’s popular steak tips ($12) and turkey tips ($12), which both came with iceberg salads, terrific mashed potatoes (somehow light but not with too much cream or butter), and veg of the day – canned corn. The turkey tips were plentiful, flavorful, moist, and filling: I’d have them again. And the steak tips were good, too, cooked to order with care, and tasty, but tough the way steak tips can be. For a buck more, absolutely go for the 14 oz. New York sirloin strip ($13), which comes with the same sides and is terrific enough not to embarrass Abe and Louie were it dressed up on one of their Boylston Street plates.

Also well above average was the pub’s baked scrod ($11) — its light butter and wine sauce hinting of loftier venues.

Cronin’s serves the same menu (at the same prices) day and night, so you can fill up on one of their sandwiches anytime, for even shorter money than one of their main courses. Their fried fish and cheese sandwich ($6.50), with fries, is good, but if you don’t feel like fried fish, go for the turkey tip ($7) or boneless grilled chicken breast sandwich ($6.50).

Of course, Cronin’s is at least half bar (the pub was one of the first establishments in Quincy to receive a liquor license after prohibition ended in 1933) and a daily lunch special offers a burger and 16 oz. draft for $7. Even our soda glasses ($2) were refilled when seen to be empty. And, along with the bar’s handful of beers on tap, a dozen bottled beers, and several wines, there’s the non-alcoholic O’Doul’s.

For the wee ones, Cronin’s has a kids menu of hot dogs, chicken fingers, or grilled cheese – with fries and a soda – for $4.

This is a good place to go to slip into a slice of timeless pub life and have a pint and a bite.

23 Des Moines Rd., Quincy
Daily, 11 a.m. to TK
617 786 9804
Accessible to the handicapped, Major credit cards accepted
Kitchen open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. through 10 p.m.; Sunday, noon through 10 p.m.