MacGregor's Johor Baru

Lager, Food, Music, reads the tagline at MacGregor’s and this is exactly what I’m looking for at a traditional Irish pub.

MacGregor's traditional Irish pub at Zenith Lifestule Centre
There are days when some loud music is very welcome and today is one of those days.

The pub has live music entertainment by various artistes on different days of the week and I’m here to enjoy the brand of music by guest band, The GoodFlerZ.

Recently opened on the ground floor of the Zenith Lifestyle Centre within Suasana Iskandar, the pub offers indoor and outdoor dining areas with a view of Johor Baru’s main street, Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

I’m familiar with this building and am safely parked within the building by driving in via Jalan Trus. A convenient ride on a bubble lift from the carpark takes me down to the ground floor.

Preparing Pomegranate Crush [Left] and
a Margarita with a local twist [Right]
It’s dusk on a Friday and the after-office crowd is turning up to join me – ready to wind down for the week with some good food, cool drinks and rock music!

My friends are already here and we are shown to a table reserved up front, for the best view of the band’s live performance, which I’m told should start about 9pm.

I refrain from asking for a Guinness draught (typical in any Irish pub!) simply because I want to check out what they have on the drinks menu that is unique to MacGregor’s.

I’ve yet to look at the food menu. But I guess if this is truly a traditional Irish pub, there must be Irish stew in its menu – and if it’s true to its name, Guinness will an ingredient.

While there is a wide range of wines and spirits in the menu, the lager fans among us pick their usual brands. I’m meanwhile, ready to be surprised by their cocktail creations so my friend and I will have their recommended cocktails.

And when the cocktails are served, one is a refreshing Pomegranate Crush while the other is a Margarita with a local twist because it comes in a glass rimmed not by salt but assam boi powder!

A serving of Bacon & Cheese Bruschetta
We raise our glasses for a toast, sending a good vibe around as we settle down to the comfort of that familiar Friday evening feeling.

It’s time to study the menu to make our picks and my eyes zero in on the Mains.

And there it is, listed as Traditional Irish Stew, made in the traditional recipe of Irish Guinness Stew. [Score: Two points!]

I’ve already made up my mind on this while I read on about this stew: prepared in a blend of beef, pork sausage, potato, carrots and leek, topped with bacon rashers and scallion, and served with slices of bread.

The others make their choices and I nod in agreement, ready to have a taste of their pick of an Angus Ribeye Steak, Granny’s Classic Lamb Shank and Tuscan Chicken.

Appetizer of Peel-And-Eat Shrimps
The waiter points out that we can pick two choices of side items and sauces for the Mains.

So we turn to the menu again and right at the bottom of the page, there is a list of item choices like fries, mashed potato, sautéed vegetables, sautéed mushrooms, garden salad or baked potato.

[I wish the print font was just a bit larger as it’s difficult to read in such subtle lights!]

From among the sauces, we decide on Red Wine Reduction, Gorgonzola Cream Sauce and Mushroom sauce, deliberately leaving out Black Pepper.  

But before the main courses are served, we pick a few appetizers to share, like Bacon & Cheese Bruschetta, Peel-And-Eat Shrimps, and Tuna Ceviche, made with sushi grade tuna tartare, tomato salsa and avocado served with slices of toast.

Watch out for the dangerous firecrackers on
the Chilli Padi Conza pizza!
Then someone discovers the list of pizza and insists we must have a taste of the Chili Padi Conza.

As the crowd in MacGregor’s swells, the noise level is escalating while a large screen television on a nearby wall is showing football action from the World Cup games.

Now that we have placed our meal orders, I slip outside for a breather and on the pavement next to the squirting fountains, I spy a sign that reads, BIG BIKES ONLY.

And nearby, a row of cool, big boys’ toys are parked.

The sign up front!
I’m back at the table as a thin crust flat bread is served, topped with fresh tomato sauce… and my eyes zoom in on the fresh chilli padi, sprinkled quite liberally among the toppings.

This pizza is certainly not for the fainthearted but each one of us bravely ventures to try a slice, trying to pick the one with the least number of dangerous firecrackers! 

I like how the Irish pub menu is adding a local touch to give a little zing to this pizza choice. Maybe I’m just hungry or fearless or both, because I find myself reaching out for the last piece of this fiery pizza!

The appetizers are served and we take our time to savour each item. I like the bruschetta, so tasty with its strong cheese mixed with the bacon’s savoury flavours.

The plump prawns are so fresh that I don’t mind peeling them just to sink my teeth into its juicy natural taste. 

I pick up a slice of toast and top it with a small portion of the tuna tartare, tomato salsa and avocado mix, not because I don’t like it but only because I’m not a fan of fresh coriander which is used liberally in the tomato salsa!

Check out the mean machines!
Then one by one, our main course orders are served. Just like how we always do, we share out the portions for a taste of the meats and side items. Needless to say, sautéed mushrooms are at the top of my fave list.

My choice of Traditional Irish Stew is served in a dark ceramic pot – maybe to complement the Guinness – and each mouthful of its hearty flavours just brings back fond memories of long walks down the breezy glens, exploring the Giant’s Causeway and thoughts of the Bushmills...

Pondering on all things Irish, I cannot help but wonder if MacGregor’s in JB is part of an international chain. And the best person to answer this burning question must be Wyman Lee, co-owner of the pub.

A serving of Angus Ribeye Steak with a side of sauce
Traditional Irish Stew served with slices of bread
Lee put my wondering to rest when he explains that the pub is an independent establishment and its name was inspired by his favourite Mixed Martial Arts star, Conor Anthony McGregor, an Irish professional MMA boxer.

With our stomachs full and our conversation done, we are ready for the night’s live music entertainment.

Live music entertainment by The GoodFlerZ rocking the night away! 
Like the rest of the audience, we are more than ready for The GoodFlerZ as they strike up the band with familiar (sing-a-long) tunes along with their own compositions and rocked the appreciative audience happily on, long into the night.

MacGregor’s is a Non-Halal restaurant, open daily for lunch from 12pm while dinner is served from 5pm till late.

Located at #G-06, Ground level of Zenith Lifestyle Centre, No. 82-C Jalan Trus, Johor Baru. For reservations, Tel: +607 – 277 6818.

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