Brian Mahony has been in a kitchen since he was 15 years old. After formal training in San Francisco, where he lived for 13 years, he ran four- and five-star restaurants and opened 25 restaurants in the gaming industry, which is his forte.
Mahony returned home to open the Western Door steakhouses for Seneca Gaming and Entertainment. Almost two years ago, he took a gamble and opened his own place, The Mahony, in the Fairmont Creamery building where he is owner and chef.
While he has established loyal followers, he’s hoping more customers discover his bold flavors and ethnically diverse menu. On a recent tour of his restaurant, Mahony shared his passion for feeding others.
During that tour a customer stopped in asking when the restaurant opens because he was craving "the best burrito in town."
Question: How do you feel about the location on Scott Street?
Mahony: I think I’m a year to 18 months early and I’m trying to get awareness that we’re here. People that find us, they come back and the online reviews reflect that.
Q: How do you describe the menu?
A: We’re a great American eatery. It’s American, but it’s ethnically diverse. It’s an eclectic tribute to the ethnic diversity in our country.
Q: What meals do you recommend on a cold winter day?
A: All of our soups – our Tuscan white bean soup with shrimp and roasted vegetables and our Asian noodle soup. Our beef short ribs are very popular – we can’t take them off the menu. People will come in 16 times and eat the same thing. Everything is made from scratch from the pickles to the desserts and we have vegan and gluten-free options.
Q: Customers rave about your burgers. What’s your secret?
A: The Mahony burger is great – our patty is made with a combination of lean ground beef and corned beef. Our burgers and burritos, people say, are the best in the city. Our Reuben has a spicy mustard relish. It’s not your traditional Thousand Island.
Q: How rewarding is it to own your own place?
A: It’s very rewarding and it’s trying. I worked in corporate America for 12 years and I always wanted to do this. Our food is unique – it’s home cooking with fresh ingredients when they’re in season. We will do farm to table. I want to give people a good dining experience at a reasonable price.
Q: Is that your main goal?
A: The goal is to get really well-flavored foods into people’s mouths because once they eat it they come back. There’s too many places I go and it’s fine, but I’ll say to myself, “A little bit of basil, salt and pepper and you go from a really nice dish to a great dish.”
Cooking is very subtle. The mind plays tricks on people so you have to add things that make your brain think, “What am I eating?” It’s too easy to go bland.
Q: How would you describe your flavors?
A: My flavors are bold. My goal is when you come in and you eat something it might be the best thing you ever tasted.
Q: How do you plan to share your flavors with more people?
A: I make all my own sauces for my wings, my hot sauce, my barbecue sauce - those I’m going to get bottled with Pellicano’s. I’ll do my habanero first and then my Pacific Rim - it's a foolproof way to do stir fry. All the flavors are in it so you get your veggies and chicken hot and add it in. You can certainly go right from the bottle to the pan and you’re done.
INFO: THE MAHONY, 199 Scott St. in The Fairmont Creamery. Serving lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and dinner 4 p.m. to close Monday through Saturday. Call 783-8009