happened, my daughter and I visited the Irish Times during
the lunch hours when the bar was almost empty and customers
thronged the tables inside and out and on various levels.
We were led to an upstairs room and took seats where we had
a splendid view of the large, warehouse-like space.
Times is on busy Phila Street in Saratoga’s downtown, occupying
a space where a brew pub once flourished. Niall and Nikki
Roche (he’s Irish, she’s a Yank) relocated from New York City,
where he’d been involved in operating several Irish pubs.
They wanted to raise a family in a more peaceful locale, and
I think Irish pub, I picture a place like Molly’s Shebeen,
near East 22nd Street in Gramercy area, and I’m suspecting
that the Roches had a location like that—small, sawdust-carpeted—in
mind. The Phila Street building is hardly that, but it was
gutted and refurbished as nicely as such a vast space would
types of beer are on tap, ranging from big idiomatic brews
like Guinness and Smithwick’s to American basics like Bud.
The craft beer section lists brews from Saratoga, Cooperstown
and Troy if you want the local buzz. By-the-glass wine is
in the $7 range and features a broad selection that is bottle-priced
just south of $30. There’s also a hilariously overpriced reserve
wine list, and why not? If people want to pay it, might as
well make some extra scratch.
puts Irishness and pubishness in a context that ranges further
and often familiarly afield. Irish nachos ($11)? They feature
corned beef. As does the Irish Times spring roll ($9), cleverly
wrapping corned beef, cabbage and Swiss cheese in a deep-fried
wonton. I liked the idea better than the execution, but only
because the frying process produced an exceedingly greasy—in
fact, downright drippy—result, indicative of underheated oil.
wings, coconut shrimp and stuffed potato skins ($9 to $10
each) are among the mainstream starters. Irish sausage roll,
corned beef sliders, hummus and flatbread and a ploughman’s
platter ($7 to $9) are more idiomatic. Potato-leek soup ($5)
and Guinness beef stew ($8/$13) are among the moister foodstuffs,
joined by a soup of the day. We sampled a delicious butternut
squash soup that was thick and sweet and, if anything, too
came alongside a grilled vegetable wrap ($9), with marinated
and grilled squash at its core, and eggplant, peppers and
greens filling out the pesto-wrapper-wrapped mix. My daughter
is trying to eat in a more healthy manner—certainly in a more
healthy manner than I—and often now orders more out of virtue
than desire. So it took her a while to realize that the promised
goat cheese never made it into the wrap, and by the time she
noticed it didn’t make any sense to try to remediate it, although
our server offered a make-up order once we pointed out the
other sandwiches are part of the list, priced from $7 (a BLT
that substitutes ham-like Irish rasher for the bacon) to $13
(lobster roll salad on a whole wheat roll), including a corned
beef Reuben, three types of chicken, a couple of burgers and
fancifully named items like the Arkle (tomatoes, mozzarella,
romaine) and the Nijinsky (grilled chicken breast with mango
chutney and smoked gouda).
a meal out of a salad by ordering a Caesar ($8) or cobb ($12).
The caprese and pear salads ($10 each) are lighter, thanks
to their component fruit. The grilled salmon and baby spinach
salad ($13) seems to cover every food group.
want to know about the fish and chips ($14). Or at least the
corned beef and cabbage ($14) or shepherd’s pie ($12), those
most pub-intensive entrées. I agonized over which to choose,
then threw away all dietary caution and went for the All Day
Irish Breakfast ($12), hoping to erase the still-lingering
memory of many a crappy breakfast at U.K. hotels. Perhaps
said crappiness is part of the appeal. Although the sausage
(bangers) was far better than what I tasted (and couldn’t
finish) overseas, it seemed to have been cooked much earlier
in the week and allowed to languish. In fact, the whole plate
seemed to have sat for a while, which isn’t good when you’ve
got fried eggs involved. Circlets of black and white pudding,
rasher bacon, and the inevitable grilled tomatoes complete
the dish, with a very nice slice of Irish soda bread.
a Smithwicks while easing through lunch, noting how nicely
a good pint smoothes over any inconvenience. And, in the end,
isn’t that what a pub is all about?