St. Patrick’s Day is Monday, March 17! We talked to chefs at some of Calgary’s best Irish pubs as well as one from Ireland for recipes to help you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day from your own kitchen
Photo by Ingrid Kuenzel
Beer, whiskey and shamrocks – whether you’re Irish or not, we’ve reached the time of year to celebrate Ireland and its culture.
You can choose to honour the orange, white and green by tossing back a few Guinness, debate the validity of St. Patrick’s legend, or by downing some green beer – something that’s as authentically Irish as Lucky Charms (not at all).
What about traditional Irish food? Lamb, stews, pies, all paired with an irresistible Irish beverage, filling your belly and giving you boundless, snake-smiting energy.
We spoke with a transplanted Irish Chef as well as a couple of Calgary’s premiere Irish pubs, for their thoughts on the food to focus on this month, as well as some recipes for you to try at home!
Jamesons on 17th
Jamesons, at 1230 17 Ave SW, has never had a problem attracting customers seeking an authentic Irish experience since opening its doors in one of the most competitive areas in the city.
Chef Kostas Karvouniaris has fine-tuned the menu over the last 10 years, focusing on scratch cooking, and sourcing ingredients better than most competing pubs can afford to do.
“All of the recipes are home recipes,” Karvouniaris says. “All of the food is made by the boys here with me. I like everything fresh and homemade. No pre-cooking, no frozen food and no microwave.”
Jamesons offers the classic pub favourites you can find in any Canadian bar but they love to show off their traditional Irish dishes such as Boxty, Irish Stew and Shepherd’s Pie, also found at many Irish themed pubs, but made here with the best ingredients possible.
Boasting a delicious mix of seasoned lamb and beef, under an irresistible shell of mashed potato, you won’t go wrong this St. Paddy’s day indulging in this classic.
“The number one seller is going to be the Shepherd’s pie,” Karvouniaris says. In the summertime, the boxty will sell more than Shepherd’s pie but in the winter, the Shepherd’s pie does a better job of warming you up.”
For a little over a year, Darren Keogh has worked for Thomsons Restaurant & Sandstone Lounge, at 112 Stephen Avenue Walk, overseeing a largely western Canadian style cuisine. When he has the chance, the Chef de Cuisine incorporates his own Irish culinary style into dishes here and there to overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Beer and whiskey are obviously Irish enough, but when asked what Irish dishes he pines for around St. Paddy’s day, Keogh reminisced for the classics and tossed one big cliché to the side.
“The first thing you do as a chef on St. Paddy’s day is you set up your stew and your beef & Guinness there on the menu, no matter what; then your bacon and cabbage,” Keogh says. “But this green beer thing is a bit of a fad because we don’t do that. The English do that and I suppose a bit of Europe and Canada but I haven’t actually seen a green beer.”
“It’s funny because Irish people don’t really eat Irish stew on a daily basis,” Keogh adds. “The thing with Irish stew is technically, it has to be lamb, but you have to remember one thing: every single housewife and every single mother makes a different stew. So my mother’s stew involves pieces of beef, beef meatballs, pork sausages, carrots, onions and oxtail soup to thicken it.”
“It’s not a traditional stew but it’s her stew. If I go to somebody else’s house, it’s a different stew.”
Keogh does the beef cheeks in house with a Guinness braise. This dish does require a long cooking time, but the payoff in the flavour and texture will make it all worthwhile.
“Guinness and beef is just a marriage,” Keogh points out. “People over here don’t see it as much as we do.”
One of the biggest jewels in Calgary’s Best Pubs’ crown, Limerick’s Traditional Public House at 7304 Macleod Trail S, has been a south-Calgary institution since 1999, building its reputation as one of this city’s best Irish-themed pubs, and delivering a consistently great experience.
48 beers on tap, two floors of expansive yet cozy layout and seating. Sprinkled into the menu of pub classics, are some standout Irish dishes, some just as you would expect, and others executed in a contemporary style too tempting to pass up.
How does a fresh lamb burger with a red onion marmalade and Guinness cheddar sound?
“It (the cheese) comes out marbled but it’s black and yellow,” says General Manager, Neil Currie. “It looks like cheddar surrounded by stout.”
If you wanted to stick with the old-school, you certainly can’t go wrong by enjoying the familiar Shepherd’s pie or perhaps the people’s champ: the chicken, leek and bacon boxty?
“We have the traditional stuff but the boxty is a big seller,” Viergutz says. “Most people don’t know what a boxty is. I like to describe it as a potato crepe almost, since it’s thinner than a pancake. A lot of people will give it a shot and end up coming back for it.”