Monday, March 18th, 2013
Too many Guinness draughts on St. Patty’s Day? Try hair of the Irish dog!
When it comes to world cuisine, Irish is quite likely the one I crave the least. Not a fan of corned beef or fish ‘n’ chips. I’ve never been tempted to try shepherd’s pie or Irish stew. So, when I was asked to write about Brookhaven’s new Irish pub, Olde Blind Dog, I wasn’t drooling like one.
Like stepping into an Celtic theme park, Olde Blind Dog’s owners spared no expense with the decor, importing antique mirrors and intricately carved wood accents from Europe, and creating kitschy elements like windows with faux plants, and “sidewalks” complete with street signs. The centerpiece is a multi-level seating area, with secluded booths called “snugs”, effectively dividing the boisterous bar from the cozy little tables, some of them nestled beneath the stairs, giving guests a wee bit of privacy. BB likened it to Fado on steroids….LOL.
Someone involved in this operation is a marketing genius. The menu is designed to look like an old newspaper called the Daily Dog, featuring the story of the old blind dog himself. A good bit of wit is used to describe the authentic Irish dishes, as well as some more unusual selections like the Celtic Curry.
On the rare occassion I go to an Irish pub, I invariably have an Irish car bomb, a half pint of Guinness with a shot of Jameson’s and Bailey’s dropped in. It has a rich, chocolately flavor. That’s how LC and I started our visit, then promptly ordered a sampling of their best-selling appetizers: tabasco fried pickles, ale and cheddar dip, and a fish slider.
The staff is so well-trained it was impossible to know the place had only been open a week. Service was brisk and enthusiastic. Our awesome server, Martin, said it was quite a challenge to separate the draught line for the Guinness from the other beers, as it was necessary to serve it at 42 degrees rather than the standard American 38 degrees like the other selections. I was impressed. Equally impressive is the fact they make their corned beef in house daily, as well as all of their desserts. Fries and chips are freshly cut, nothing comes in frozen.
We enjoyed pieces of pretzel bread dipped in their signature ale and cheddar dip. When the bread was gone, LC cleaned the bowl out with his finger. He also loves pickles. Deep fry ‘em with a spicy batter and you have a winner. Flaky cod was beer battered on a baby bun with tartar sauce for dipping.
I wanted to try some traditional Irish fare, so I ordered the bangers and mash for my entree. LC went along and tried the corned beef and beer braised cabbage. The presentation was awesome….a mountain of mashed potatoes drizzled with brown gravy surrounded by three grilled sausages, then topped with crispy fried onions. Texturally pleasing and enough to feed a lumberjack.
LC’s dish was a solid interpretation of a classic. A wedge of vinegary cabbage was a perfect compliment to the dense yet inexplicably tender chunks of corned beef. Stewed potatoes and carrots rounded out the plate. The meat was even better the next morning mixed in scrambled eggs, topped with melted cheddar, served with English muffins. Can you believe I actually ate the leftovers?
We ate about a third of our dinner, had it boxed up, then promptly ordered dessert…a wedge of housemade bread pudding. It was studded with dried cranberries and resting in a pool of creme Anglaise. I would have preferred raisins, but it was thankfully not extemely sweet. Most of it also went in a box just to be devoured as soon as we got home.
Parking was a bit of a challenge, forcing many patrons to walk across the parking lot from the nearby Costco. Or, you may snag a spot out front if you have the luck of the Irish! The food at Olde Blind Dog is hearty. And salty. But if you crave Irish food, you’ll freakin’ love it.
705 Town Boulevard 404-816-5739