There’s an old Irish proverb says; “Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is.” While that sentence may not be grammatically correct, the inspiration is true. The Italians are known for abundant feasts, the French for haute cuisine, the Irish have always been famous for…well not much beyond cabbage and potatoes.
And that’s a shame, for while Irish cuisine may not be known for its exotic flavors (What’s an Irish spice rack? Salt and pepper!), there are a number of dishes that are quite interesting. While corned beef may be the best known entrée item, lamb is the predominate protein served (you think they kept those sheep just for wool?) in stew or ground and browned with onions, mixed with peas and carrots then topped with mashed potatoes as shepherd’s pie.
It may be a cliché, but the main ingredients in many Irish dishes are potatoes and cabbage. One classic dish is colcannon; boiled potatoes and cabbage mashed together with leeks, cream and butter. Similar to mashed potatoes, the dish is often combined with sausages for “bangers and mash.” Since Ireland is an island, it’s no surprise that Irish cuisine also features plenty of seafood. In addition to fish and chips, Irish dishes often utilize salmon, scallops, lobster, mussels, oysters, eel and dulse (salty seaweed).
With Saint Patrick’s Day around the corner, you might want to check out the menu at some of these Irish spots and expand your familiarity with Irish fare beyond green beer.
1095 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
Waxy’s specializes in what is often referred to as modern Irish cuisine, classic dishes that have been given gourmet twists. The menu features Irish sausage rolled in puff pastry, Irish mixed grill (lamb chop, Irish sausage and bacon served with black & white puddings, baked beans, sautéed mushrooms, grilled tomato and a fried egg) and chicken curry. Of course, classics such as shepherd’s pie, fish n' chips, bangers n' mash and corned beef and cabbage are available as well. Most entrees are in the $12-$15 range, and the menu labels items which are vegan and/or gluten free.
3419 N. Andrews, Oakland Park
At Stout, it’s more about the drink. One look at the 60-foot long hammered copper bar makes that clear. Stout offers more than 60 different beers and an extensive list of whiskey (Irish and otherwise), including flights of either. Sports games blare from all 40 of the TV screens spread throughout the venue. While the selection of Irish fare isn’t as broad as others, the few dishes on the menu; grilled salmon, an Irish Reuben, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie are damn good and the lamb stew with Guinness sauce is exceptional. Entrees are between $15 and $20, sandwiches about five bucks less.
3281 Griffin Rd., Dania Beach
If your mother was Irish, the dishes coming out of the kitchen here would be like going home for dinner. It’s not fancy, but it sure is good. There are the usual suspects; corned beef and cabbage, lamb stew, bangers and mash and shepherd's pie. But, if you’re looking for something even homier, try the cabbage rolls or chicken pot pie. The majority of the entrees are in the $10-$15 range. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the traditional Irish breakfast; Irish sausage, Irish bacon, a potato pancake and black & white pudding.
Maguires Hill 16
535 North Andrews, Fort Lauderdale
Maguires Hill 16, the oldest Irish pub in South Florida, is a family run operation. Jim and Martina Gregory have been in the business for more than 40 years with restaurants in Ireland, New York, and Florida. Their son James and daughter Eugina have grown up in the business. The enormous portions, most priced less than $15, offer an opportunity to taste authentic Irish fare and have enough left to take home for a second meal. Specialties of the house include the Irish farmhouse grill (imported Irish bacon and sausage, grilled tomato, roast potato and two eggs-add a grilled pork chop if you like), Ballymaloe chicken (boneless breast stuffed with spinach and cream cheese and topped with Bailey’s and mushroom cream sauce), chicken curry or chicken pot pie. Classics such as lamb stew, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage are available.
Kelly Brothers Irish Pub
3045 N. Federal Hwy. Fort Lauderdale
This place claims to be an authentic Irish pub, but it’s kind of hard to take it seriously when under “Traditional Irish Food” it lists “Southern Fried Chicken”. Still, it does offer Irish coffee and as comic Alex Levine pointed out, “Only Irish coffee provides, in a single glass, all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.”