Eating-up Stratford
Bite by Byte

Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Paddy's at Molly Bloom's: The Secret Ingredient Is... Green!

Last Thursday was my first ever St. Patrick's Day in Stratford. I am the kind of person who would be inclined to take St. Paddy's Day more seriously as a holiday than, say, Christmas and Easter combined. I spent St. Patrick's Day in Dublin in 1997, so I have a strong idea of what constitutes a 'Good Craic' when March 17th rolls around. All I gotta say is - Stratford sure looks good in green!

I've been known to take the whole afternoon off to raise a few (dozen) pints of Guiness in commemoration of Ireland's snake-hating patron saint. That wasn't an option this year, and I paid the price for my professionalism: when Lisa and I got to Molly Bloom's Irish Pub around 6pm, it was so packed that folks were lining up to get in!

The wait was worth it though - when we got inside the place was full of great party music, people in the mood to have fun, and pitchers of bright green beer!

Molly's is owned and operated by Rob and Candace Wigan (above), and they were in fine form that night (St. Paddy's is the equivalent of the Superbowl for Irish pubs!). We hung out with them and some other friends and necked a few pints of stout while we waited for a table to become available on this packed night.

A great food-loving friend of mine from County Clare, Ireland, once shared with me some words of wisdom his aunt had bestowed upon him:

"Hunger is the best sauce."

We were hungry after the line-up and the quaffing session we'd performed while waiting for our table: the special Irish menu the kitchen at Molly's was serving up that night tasted about as good as food can taste!

I started off with one of my favourite things to eat, a steaming bowl of leek & potato soup. Simple and satisfying, in the true spirit of Irish pub food.

The lads in the kitchen got creative with the next dish - Irish Nachos. What makes Irish Nachos 'Irish', you ask? Instead of tortilla chips, the salsa, cheese, olives, and peppers were loaded over a pile of deep fried crosshatch-cut potatoes. As a sucker for any dish that includes fried potatoes, this was a real winner for me.
Someone at the table ordered a golden plateful of Guiness Battered Fish and Chips.

Another friend ordered Chicken in an Irish Whiskey Sauce. Sláinte!

But Irish eyes were truly smiling on the special Shepherd's Pie we were served. A perfectly seasoned mix of gorgeous lamb and ground beef baked under a layer of fluffy mash - this was pub food fit for James Joyce himself!

We were tempted to order dessert, but opted instead to get back into the spirit of Ireland (literally) with a few shots known as "Irish Car Bombs" (a jigger of Bailey's Irish Cream sitting in a glass of Guiness, downed  all at once like a Boilermaker).

My first St. Paddy's in Stratford was my favourite combination - a great party and a great meal!

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