I'm fairly new to this message board, but I've been surprised at the amount of scorn heaped upon Allen's. Almost everyone seems to have a serious dislike for the place.
But it's been in business for almost 20 years, so it must please some people at least some of the time.
Allen's is modelled after Joe Allen's - http://www.joeallenrestaurant.com/ - a small chain of four restaurants, including one in New York. Joe Allen's - and Allen's - are not meant to be a high-end fine dining experiences. Rather, they should be viewed a neighbourhood establishment, a place to have decent food with good company.
I think Allen's serves up the best hamburger in the city. And the braised lamb shank is very good too. The trick at Allen's - as with most restaurants - is to order well, and stay away from dishes the kitchen doesn't excel at (in this case, any Asian-inspired dishes at an American-Irish-style pub - instead, think fish and chips, and meat).
IMHO, if those of you who haven't had great experiences at Allen's will dare to give it one more chance this fall or winter, here's my suggested order - sweet potato fries (it's big enough to share), hamburger medium / medium rare (don't want to desecrate that Cumbrae sirloin), with blue cheese and bacon, and a pint of Guiness. Skip dessert and have a glass of Redbreast to steel you for the cold outside.
And if that still doesn't do it for you, let's face it - Allen's has one of the best patios on the east side. Come warm weather, grab a table under the big old tree in the back - substitute McAuslan Apricot Wheat for the Guiness and pour the Redbreat over ice - and you're all set.
Can't wait for next summer.