Finn McCool’s

Sunny side up: Vegetarian Irish breakfast

Sunny side up: Vegetarian Irish breakfast

Vegetable boxty

Potato pancake: Vegetable boxty

To go from the Horn of Africa yesterday to the Emerald Isle today might have seemed like too great a leap. Fortunately, Finn McCool’s (2702 Main St., in Santa Monica) made for an easy transition, combining the traditional atmosphere and fare of an Irish pub with a full page of options for vegetarians and even vegans. So many things looked enticing that it was hard to choose, but over a pint of Guinness we settled on the vegetarian Irish breakfast (available all day) and the vegetable boxty. The breakfast came with savory sautéed mushrooms; grilled tomatoes, cut in half and seasoned with pepper; a dense, chewy slice of whole grain soda bread; and Belfast potato bread, buttery golden disks that we had to fight over. One of us scarfed down the egg, sunny side up by request; the other scooped up the Heinz baked beans. The boxty, identified on the menu as “a large, traditional Irish potato pancake,” surprised us when it arrived; folded like a tortilla, it was filled to overflowing with a flavorful stew of perfectly cooked bell peppers, carrots, spinach, celery, onion, tomatoes, cabbage, and peas in a white-wine cream sauce that was more like a light broth than an artery-clogging blanket. Despite the generous portions, we easily cleared both plates and even managed to find room for dessert, another tough call, with so much to tantalize us. After further deliberation over our Guinness, we went with the black and tan chocolate pie. Though this beautifully prepared flourless torte with a butter pecan crust, white and dark chocolate ganache, and whipped cream proved too sweet for us, our non-Irish eyes were still smiling. By welcoming vegetarians and serving food of such a high caliber, Finn McCool’s made us feel lucky indeed.