How to eat like you’re Irish on March 17

St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner and with it the muchanticipated St. Patrick’s Day Parade in downtown St. Paul, pints (OK, pitchers) of green beer and boisterous, jam-packed pubs. But one cannot live on Guinness alone— one must also have grub. Copious amounts of hearty, Irish grub.

The cuisine of Ireland has seen somewhat of a renaissance as of late. Irish food is comforting and rich, chockful of meat, potatoes and plenty of Kerrygold butter, and how can that be bad? While some traditional Irish dishes may be a bit intimidating for the average American palate—black pudding sounds like a clever dessert, but it’s actually blood-filled sausage—most Irish dishes, such as velvety shepherd’s pies or sky-high Reuben sandwiches, are sinfully delicious.

Como Park’s Paddy Shack gets much of the credit for the recent revival of Irish food in our neck of the woods. Culinary royalty chef Jack Riebel has created an approachable and unique menu at Half Time Rec, 1013 Front Ave., complete with a divine champ dish (mashed potatoes with approximately an inch of melted butter floating on top) and a slew of satisfying appetizers to please any partygoer.

March 17 is traditionally the busiest day at Half Time Rec, according to Riebel, and in order to facilitate all those extra bodies and still serve delicious hot food, he is planning a cash-and-carry-only menu of mostly hand-held items that can be easily enjoyed while standing elbow-to-elbow in the crowded bar.

“We want folks to come in, have a good time, and grab some great, fun food while they are at it,” Riebel said. “We will not be offering table service that day so that there is more room for everyone to mingle and enjoy the day.”

Not a big fan of crowds? The color green makes you nervous? Stop by and pick up your meal to go.

Pouring a perfect pint

Before any actual St. Patrick’s Day reveling even begins, Gabe’s by the Park, 991 N. Lexington Pkwy., will host the 2015 Guinness Perfect Pint Competition on Wednesday, March 11. The honor of hosting this event was bestowed upon Gabe’s because last year’s Perfect Pint-pouring winner was Gabe’s own bartender Jennifer Barry, who also happens to be St. Paul’s St. Patrick’s Association Miss Shamrock 2014.

For the holiday itself, Gabe’s owner, Tim Weiss, promises a few surprise menu items in addition to traditional dishes such as corned beef and cabbage, corned beef sandwiches and Irish stew. And of course, green beer will flow and good cheer will abound.

Colossal Café

Known for its satisfying breakfast offerings, Colossal Café will add some Irish delights to its menu for the week of St. Patrick’s Day, including corned beef hash for their weekend brunch.

As with anything they put on the table, these Irish specials promise to be charmingly delicious.

Yes, I went there.


Try making your own Irish fare at home, with the following recipe.

Boxty Recipe

Serves 6 to 8

A boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake made from a mixture of mashed and grated potatoes, resulting in a unique texture that’s both crispy and tender. The boxty is rumored to have originated during the Irish famine, when families tried to make the humble potato stretch further. Serve boxty with a side of bangers for an indulgent Irish breakfast before heading out to the parade downtown.

  • 1/2 cup raw, finely grated potato (about 1 medium baking potato)
  • 1 cup cooked mashed potato (about 1 medium baking potato)
  • Dash salt
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Combine raw grated potatoes and mashed potatoes. Add salt and flour. Lightly beat egg and add to mixture. Add just enough milk to make a thick batter. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a hot oiled griddle or cast iron skillet. Fry over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

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