Erin Go Bragh! 7 Delicious St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

Forget mashed potatoes and watery boiled cabbage — Irish cuisine has gone upscale this March with mouthwatering menus featuring Gaelic steak with cream sauce, corned-beef arancini with whole-grain mustard sauce, and succulent Atlantic salmon. If that’s not enough to make you raise a glass of cheer, restaurants across the country are hosting a slew of musical acts, Irish trivia nights, and even sexy kilt contests for a sham-rocking time feting the Emerald Isle’s patron saint. Check out these seven not-to-be-missed St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub, New York, New York
St. Patrick’s Day at O’Lunney’s isn’t just about dinner; it’s about dinner and a show — with a full Irish breakfast to boot. The festivities start at 8AM, and the entertainment kicks off with Irish step dancers and bagpipers streaming through a jolly crowd enjoying the greatest amount of corned beef and cabbage that will be ordered all year. But besides the traditional, they like to add specials, such as a Gaelic steak topped with a whiskey cream sauce served with potatoes, potato and leek soup with bacon, onion soup, and a slew of Irish coffees, says Maureen O’Lunney, whose father Hugh opened the restaurant after moving to New York from County Cavan in 1968. “It’s just packed and so much fun,” she says. “St. Patrick’s Day here has a mighty history.” That included an annual visit from former NYC Mayor Ed Koch every March 17. Make a reservation at O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Fado Irish Pub, Seattle, Washington
With Seattle’s longest-running Irish tune session held every Sunday, Fado always has a bit of the ceoil agus craic (music and fun), but during March, it’s celebrated in spades. Featuring a full musical lineup on parade day on the 12th and also on the 17th, Fado encourages guests to “Paddy Hard,” starting in the morning with special brunch menus, and heartier fare like Guinness & cheddar bread and chicken and shrimp boxty, an Irish pancake made with grated and mashed potatoes. Those needing a time-out from the revelry can take a breather in “the confessional”; this special space in each of Fado’s 13 locations nationwide is dedicated to the father of owner Kieran McGill, whose dad owned The Confessional pub back in Dublin. Make a reservation at Fado Irish Pub.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro, Chicago, Illinois
Surely, Ireland’s patron saint deserves more than just one day, especially in a city so spirited as to dye the Chicago River green. For a full 17 days, Mrs. Murphy & Sons puts an upscale spin on such classic county fare as shepherd’s pie with ground domestic lamb and veal, carrots, leeks, pearl onions, and golden brown mashed potatoes, beer-battered Atlantic cod with homemade tartar sauce, curry ketchup, and hand cut chips, Guinness stew with braised Highland chuck, root vegetables, roasted barley, and mashed potatoes, and bread pudding featuring brioche, whiskey caramel sauce, cinnamon cream, and toasted walnuts. If the full schedule of Irish music isn’t enough to evoke the Emerald Isle, surely the surroundings — a painstakingly restored historic space with a bar built in Dublin and shipped across the pond — will. Make a reservation at Mrs. Murphy & Sons Irish Bistro.

St. Patrick's Day Celebrations

James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant, Baltimore, Maryland
Though literary scholars know James Joyce is more about reflection than revelry, anything but the opposite is true in Harbor East, where James Joyce Pub has helped revitalize the Baltimore landscape. March is the merriest of months, with music and special events nearly every night of the week, including burger day on Mondays with an Irish black pudding or Guinness burger and Whiskey Wednesdays. Those not ready to join the Guinness 100 Pint Club can get their fix with chef Pedro Flores’s award-winning Beer & Guinness Stew (crowned the best at the Maryland Irish Festival); or dig into Irish boiled bacon with crispy roasted potatoes, carrots, and whiskey mustard cream, bangers and mash, fish and chips, and for those watching their waistlines, grilled Atlantic salmon. Make a reservation at James Joyce Pub.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day: 15 Different Ways to Get Your Guinness On!

GuinnessGuinness has become synonymous with St. Patrick’s Day — so synonymous that the company hopes to sell 7.5 million pints of it on March 17th, according to an article in The Economist. Founded in Dublin by Arthur Guinness in 1759, Guinness Brewery is most famous for its Extra Stout. With its signature dark hue and notes of roasted barley and hints of hops, Guinness’s Extra Stout isn’t just for drinking. It’s become a common ingredient for braising, baking, and more — in everything from beef short ribs and burgers to cakes, cheeses, and beyond. So, even if you’re not a Guinness sipper, you can still be a Guinness eater! Whet your appetite for tonight (or today, if you’re playing hooky) with delicious dishes made with Ireland’s most popular brew. PS: If you’re raising a glass of Guinness, be sure it’s poured with care (and that you have for more than two minutes to spare before you quaff it).

* Bar Boulud, Boston, Massachusetts: “The best French onion soup broth I’d ever tasted (with a unique blend of oxtail broth, oxtail, and barley, topped with Guinness cheddar cheese — made custom, without the crostini).”

* BLD, Los Angeles, California: “The Guinness ice cream terrine was flavorful with a hint of Guinness and Jameson fudge.”

* Blokes & Birds, Chicago, Illinois: “The three cheese and Guinness fondue = delicious, as was the ‘cheesy peavey’ = baked apple with brie in the center.”

* Connor O’Neill’s, Ann Arbor, Michigan: “We had the big house burger, chicken wings, Guinness and Jameson pulled pork, and fish. All four meals were amazing, well prepared, cooked properly, and extremely tasty.”

* e11even, Toronto, Ontario: “Great restaurant steps from ACC. Pretty fast in getting food out. Upscale menu. Had the gourmet Guinness burger on list. Homemade.”

* fado Irish pub, Chicago, Illinois: “We had the salmon bites, pork belly tacos, and Guinness BBQ wings to start. All hits with this group.”

* M Restaurant at The Morris House, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: “My ‘M treat’ included velvety butternut squash soup, perfectly seared scallops, yummy Guinness-braised short ribs, and then a creamy mocha cheesecake! What more could I ask for?”

* McHale’s Bar and Grill, New York, New York: “Great service and food — the curry was delicious and the Irish stew was in deep brown Guinness gravy (yum).”

* Miller Tavern, Toronto, Ontario: “The sticky Guinness chocolate pudding was amazing!”

* Muldoon’s Irish Pub, Newport Beach, California: “Tried the combination drink of Champagne and Guinness, two of my favorites. Very tasty and interesting. Cuts the earthiness of the Guinness with the effervescence of the Champagne. Would be interested to learn what the proportions of each are used for this drink.” [Ed. note: Yes, it’s a drink and not a dish, but we couldn’t resist including this unique cocktail.]Continue Reading

Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Irish Fare

CBC-blogHappy St. Patrick’s Day! Even though it’s only March 17th one day a year, diners have been celebrating this fun holiday for several weeks. After all, who doesn’t want to repeatedly observe the holiday that encourages you to drink a Guinness? While everyone knows that corned beef and cabbage aren’t authentic Irish cuisine, they’ve certainly become synonymous with Irish-American fare every March. Find out what diners are saying about the Irish food, authentic and otherwise, and St. Patty’s Day fun they’ve been enjoying in the last few weeks in recent restaurant reviews.

Conor O’Neills, Ann Arbor, Michigan: “We met family from out of town at Conor’s after Shamrocks and Shenanigans. It was festive, fun, and, overall, a great place to enjoy food, Guinness, Irish dancing, and good times with friends and family. It continues to be my favorite neighborhood pub!”

Fado Irish Pub and Restaurant, Austin, Texas: “Authentic, made in Ireland décor. There is nothing on the menu that isn’t great, but the lamb is the best of all! Extensive beer and Irish Whiskey list, choices I didn’t know existed. Great for gathering with friends, watching sports, and St. Patrick’s celebrations are second to none!”

Great Street, Chicago, Illinois: “Booked with Open Table four days before the event, requesting a window seat. The seating area has huge windows facing the Chicago river. I booked for 10AM and then also called the manager saying, “We NEED” a window table.” Arrived 45 min before the event, watching the Chicago River turn green at 9:30AM. It was like having a warm box seat for the event while thousands stood 4 deep on the bridges in the cold. So fun! Did have to wait about 15 minutes for a table to clear….then got the best in the house by 9:45. I thank Open Table and staff at Great Street for giving us such a memorable (and tasty) mid-morning experience on St Patrick’s!”

James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant, Baltimore, MD: “The menu had all the Irish traditional foods plus something to satisfy the taste of everyone who might choose to dine at James Joyce. The entire staff was warm and friendly, and the atmosphere was ebullient. We dined here based on other Open Table reviews and it was a fantastic choice. We will definitely come here again when we are in the area.”

Katie Mullen’s Irish Restaurant, Denver, Colorado: “The best Irish restaurant in Denver. My wife and I both LOVE this place and try to make a point to come back as often as possible. The first time we went I made an online reservation and in the Special Request section, I asked them to leave a special love note from me to my wife and they did just that. Made my wife’s night!”

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Top Chef Episode 12: Chef Ed Cotton on the Final Five

"Well, technically, Dan, it *is* local. The vending machines are just a few feet away."

Season 7 finalist Ed Cotton steps away from behind the burners at Plein Sud to lend his expert eye to this week’s episode of Top Chef All Stars

Hey, Ed! How much would it, well, suck to miss the final four after coming so far?

It‘s gotta stink! I was so nervous standing in front of Anthony Bourdain, knowing that one of us was going to pack our knives and go. I was determined to stay, and I didn’t want to go home after all of that hard work and reaching the finals. I beat out all the other chefs but two, but you want to be the last chef standing.

Padma’s in the house. Ruh-roh. What’s your experience been with surprises in Top Chef? Never good news?

There was always some sort of surprise, but it never included Padma coming into our house. It would have been nice to have her in the house, but no chance. Every day, we would all look at each other and wonder what kind of s*$# they were going to pull on us that day. You never know what they are going to do. It could look like a simple challenge, but then they throw something into the mix that makes you scratch your head.

This challenge also feels kinda gimmicky, especially that Dan Barber winds up being the judge. These ingredients are everything he’s not! Do you know Dan or have you dined at his restaurants?

"Yes, that's a nice book, Mike, but you really shouldn't have stolen that nice boy Richard's recipe last week."

It was great to see Dan Barber in this episode. I’m not sure that he was pumped to eat food off of the boat, but it is always good to see him. I love his approach to food and his philosophy on it. I have dined many times at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Tarrytown, and what an experience it is! It is truly a magical place during the changing of the seasons, and I love walking around the property and garden. I like to go during my favorite months and get the tasting menu — the food is so fresh and flavorful. Even the cocktails are made with juices and herbs from the garden. They really do it right there! Actually, Dan even gave me and my dining companion a ride back to the city after eating dinner at Blue Hill one night. It was already late when we finished our dessert, and he offered to take me back to Manhattan. He’s a class act and a great chef.

Not knowing that Dan is the judge, what might you have made?

I’m not sure what I would have made. My first instinct would be to go for hot dogs or something processed (something that wouldn’t require too much cooking). I would try to manipulate the food as smartly as possible and transform it into something that doesn’t look like it came off of a snack bar. Mike’s soup thing made me cringe. I think it made him cringe, also.

What are you allowed to carry in your kit, by the by? Herbs? What else?

It is crazy what Richard has in his knife bag. You can have a certain amount of knives and special ingredients, but you have to be very selective of what you bring. I wracked my brain for days about what I was going to pack. I had everything I wanted spread all over my carpet at home — huge debate. (My girlfriend Diana didn’t like that too much!) I went with a lot of my spice blends that I bought from a good friend of mine, Lior Lev Sercarz, at his store named La Boîte à Epice in New York. His spice blends propelled my food to the next level. Thanks, buddy!

"Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble."

What is your heritage and which part of that would you most like to reflect in a dish? Do any dishes come to mind?

Well, my heritage is a bit all over the place. I’m a bit of everything — a mutt, if you will. Growin up, my grandfather loved eating corned beef and cabbage. I remember when I was a kid, we would always eat that on St. Patrick’s Day. My dad would make a big batch every year, and then my grandfather would come over and have dinner with us. With that said, I would do a version of corned beef and cabbage. The broth would be a rich beef consommé with lightly corned beef that was braised in that flavorful broth along with some stuffed cabbage and root vegetables. I did a version of this one year while I was working for Dainel Boulud in Las Vegas. It was a hit on St Patrick’s Day! This challenge would be right up my alley.

Which member of your family would you most want to be judging your food?

I would love to have seen my mother or my father! They both love food and cooking,  so flip a coin because it’s a tough one to choose.

FTW…it’s Antonia, and I am really SHOCKED. You? I really thought that, while it was close, Tiffany stuck the landing over everyone.

Wow, Antonia nailed it! Great job!  She has been a solid competitor this season and she knows how to cook, that’s for sure. Tiffany was determined not to go home this time. During my season, this is exactly when she went home. I was so happy to see her pull through again. The judges were right; it was a very tough decision. They all looked good. What a terrific episode this was!

I’m stunned that they changed the rules and let all five through. What do you think was going on here?

Again, with the answer above, all of the dishes were great. It must have been a long time at judges table. I am sure that someone was secretly pissed off that no one actually went home. I know I would only want four going to the finals, and not five. But, they all hit a home run with this challenge!

What lies ahead here in this final round? And, how would you feel about competing against Kevin one more time?

You really don’t know what to expect in the finals at all. Anything goes! All I know is that I wasn’t joking around and was on a mission to cook good food for the title of Top Chef. I would love to go up against Kevin again, anytime, anywhere. Kev’s a great guy and his food is quality. I’m not afraid or scared to compete against anyone. It is just food!