Claddagh Irish Pub

21 Nov

Where have I been?  I don’t know if you’ve been wondering, but I know I have been trying to get back after some traveling for work.  However, just because I wasn’t posting here doesn’t mean I wasn’t eating by any means.  I have a lot to tell you about, but with the upcoming turkey day ahead of us, I wanted to first post about a restaurant you may not consider for Thanksgiving.

This past weekend, hubs and I made our way to the Claddagh on the northside for lunch.  I had been contacted to try some of the new menu items on hand and since we hadn’t been there for a while, I thought why not?  Like many of you (maybe?), when I think of the Claddagh, I think St. Paddy’s Day.  Or maybe a place to have some drinks and dinner with friends.  But honestly, I don’t really think about it for lunch.  I had eaten there once for Easter brunch – slightly random I know, but had a great meal. I was anxious to see what was happening with an Irish staple in Indy.

One thing I must say before getting to the food – this place is always clean of any bar smell.  Though it is clearly a pub in my eyes, it doesn’t have that lingering stale beer smell that so many pubs do have.  The classic dark woods and greens of an Irish pub are abundant, but no smoke or stale beer.  Always a great thing when I’m enjoying food to say the least.  We were greeted by our server (I believe her name was Kaylee – I apologize if this is incorrect in name or spelling) and were shown to our table.  She was nice from the greeting to the end, some of the best service I’ve seen in a while.  Didn’t check-in too much but just enough to ensure our glasses were full and that we were enjoying our meal.

Chef Jason (who they refer to as Chef J) had made up a sampling for us to try.  We began with a few appetizers, including one that I had my eye on as I was looking over their new menu, baked goat cheese. I would have never though an Irish pub would be serving this, but I’m glad they do.  The goat cheese was baked with housemade marinara, which had a subtly sweet flavor from the tomatoes and slight sharpness from the chardonnay that is used in the sauce. The cheese was creamy and (as hubs says) not strong in ‘goat’ flavor. A little cracked pepper on top, served simply with toasted bread, was the perfect way to start the meal. We also had the opportunity to try their stuffed mushrooms and fried shrimp. I wouldn’t order the mushrooms again, they lacked salt and seemed plain to me. But the shrimp had a good sweet and spicy flavor (nothing overwhelming). The shrimp had been battered in Yuengling – another surprise in an Irish bar – and served with a sweet chili aioli. They were almost too perfectly breaded, and I didn’t get the opportunity to ask if they were done in house.  Hubs loved the combo of the sauce with the aioli and I thought it was good because it gave the shrimp a little something that it needed. Shrimp was good, but the goat cheese was a bit better.

For our entrees, we were served two different types of burgers. One was the ‘the burger’ and the other was the Jameson. The Jameson was our preferred (pictured on the far left) – the Jameson sauce was rich, slightly sweet, and uniquely smokey like a barbecue sauce. This did overshadow the cheese sauce, but I still liked having it available for the salty factor, which was also contributed with the onion strings. I could have done without the onion strings – they didn’t seem fresh to me at the time, like they had sat for a bit. One flavor that was very apparent – cumin. I thought it was just in this burger, but it was also very apparent (maybe too much for my liking) in the other burger. So note, if you don’t like cumin, don’t get a burger. ‘The burger’ (far right) would be your basic bacon and cheddar, but instead of a ketchup, you get a serving of the ballymaloe relish. This tomato based relish is the perfect accompaniment, and it also worked well with the other sandwich we were offered, an egg blt (centered).  The egg was cooked to order, over medium for us both, and was not at all greasy. So many times eggs on burgers come across greasy. Though this wasn’t a burger, I was happy to see it was a ‘clean’ egg that was true to its flavor and, when combined with the crispy bacon, perfectly seasoned. Tomato and lettuce completed the dish with the bread being spot on. It was a slightly toasted sourdough that soaked up all the egg but still stood true without crumbling. The last part of our entree taste was the chicken pot pie (pictured in all three). It was buttery, full of veggies, and had a creamy backbone. My chicken seemed a little dry but hubs disagreed as he ate all of his.

I had left a lot on the plates as my stomach was screaming for me to stop, but as the dessert came, I happily picked up my fork and dug in. The trio consisted of a mini apple pie, creme brulee and bread pudding. The apple pie was severely lacking in both of our opinions. It was a flavorless wonton like pastry crust with unseasoned apple filling. Both could have used some sugar or cinnamon to give it more depth. The creme brulee was very light which wasn’t characteristic to the creme brulees I’ve had in the past.  It was a large portion as well. My favorite out of the three was the bread budding. It did have raisins; though I normally don’t like raisins, I didn’t notice them too much. It could have been a touch warmer but it was still melting the whipped cream on top. A swirl of whiskey sauce gave it a little extra flavor boost. The mint, though nice for visual presentation, did throw off that particular bite. Despite removing the mint, the flavor lingered and didn’t mesh well with the overall taste of the dish.  However, it didn’t ruin the dish by any means.

Overall, I was impressed with the food.  Hubs was a bit more than me, but I just felt that the seasoning on a few items could have been adjusted.  Everything was cooked well (except my chicken which was a little dry), the environment casual and relaxed, and service was excellent.

Besides some great food, I learned the Claddagh changed their menu throughout the year. I had no idea – I guess when you basically order one thing (their fish and chips – amazing) the few times you dine there, you may not really realize the other part of the menu. But as we began looking at the menu, I immediately recognized that it had changed. There were items that you wouldn’t expect to find in pub environment like that but it still boasted the staple items (like pot pie, bangers and mash, etc.). Though we had been looking at the dinner menu, there is a lunch menu that looks a bit smaller online.

So, back to Thanksgiving.  If you aren’t going anywhere and maybe are looking at dining out, consider the Claddagh.  Though you won’t be ordering off the menu – they’ll have a buffet – know the food is fresh and cooked in house, ready for your stomach.  Or consider the Claddagh when you are out on Black Friday.  Prop up those feet, grab a glass of Guinness and dive into some delicious food.  I wouldn’t have thought of it before, but I would consider now after this taste.  And with winter right around the corner, I’m sure the busy season for comfort food will make the Claddagh busy.

Note: Though the meal was entirely free (thank you Claddagh), the opinions expressed are honest and all my own.

Claddagh Irish Pub * 3835 E. 96th Street * Indy, 46240 * 317.569.3663 * @Claddagh_N_Indy

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