Pub owners say St. Patrick's Day one of their busiest of the year

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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Cuisine

One Irish pub owner calls St. Patrick's Day "our Christmas" and another says customers expect green beer and they get it.

There are dozens of authentic Irish pubs in Canada, and without a doubt the St. Paddy's festival brings mega-bucks into their establishments each March 17.

One Irish pub owner calls St. Patrick's Day "our Christmas" and another says customers expect green beer and they get it.

There are dozens of authentic Irish pubs in Canada, and without a doubt the St. Paddy's festival brings mega-bucks into their establishments each March 17.

So many Canadians think of the day as non-stop Guinness sipping, but others see it as a convivial event where traditional Irish food, music and dancing are the entertainment.

"We have Irish dancers entertain during the day," says Kate Chapman, who with her husband Troy run the Rebel's Rock Pub in Hamilton, Ont.

"We are known for our Irish stews, and this year I will be making Guinness-based lamb shanks and a chicken coddle," says the native of southern Ireland.

She says their pub isn't unlike many of those found in Ireland in that it is a "mom-and-pop situation where customers enjoy home cooking" and the ambience of a cosy, friendly establishment.

Matt Fitton, assistant manager at Dolan's Irish Pub in Fredericton, N.B., says they start serving their signature corn beef and cabbage at 11 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day.

"We have live Irish music all day and even with our capacity for 235 people, there is a lineup all day and night," he says.

As the executive chef of the Prime Pubs chain, authentic Irish pubs in Calgary and the Ontario communities of Toronto, Ottawa, Nepean, Kingston and Sarnia, Niels Kjeldsen has his hands full.

He oversees the food side of the franchise, developing appropriate recipes and menus that fit into the more modern Irish palate.

"For St. Patrick's Day we are not going to feature a special menu, but we will include some dishes that are more Irish than others," Kjeldsen says.

But he points out that all the restaurants in the pubs are so crowded on St. Patrick's Day that it's hard for customers to sit down and have a fancy dinner.

So they serve pub snacks like blarney chips, deep-fried potatoes that are "nice and crisp and served with a cheese sauce topped with chopped tomatoes."

Another popular snack for patrons is a flatbread not unlike a pizza that is topped with braised shortribs garnished with cheese and horseradish.

One of the largest pubs in Canada is in what is called the Irish Village in Ottawa, where four different pubs under the same roof take up a city block.

"We always have a lineup starting between 6 and 7 in the morning" on St. Patrick's Day, says Jamie Lennox, assistant manager of the Heart & Crown in the Byward Market.

"So last year we decided to open the pub at 9 a.m. and serve breakfast until 11," he says. "It just made sense for us to bring the people in to get something on their stomachs and 10 minutes after we opened we started serving bacon, eggs, sausages, ham, hash browns and toast."

For the rest of the day, Lennox says, the pub served the Irish standards such as beef and Guinness stew, fish and chips, shepherd's pie as well as finger food that's not typically Irish - nachos and poutine.

And every St. Patrick's Day, this large establishment along with its three other pubs can over the hours serve up to 2,000 merrymakers.

Organizations: Guinness, Irish Pub, Heart & Crown

Geographic location: Canada, Ottawa, Hamilton Southern Ireland Ireland Fredericton Calgary Ontario Toronto Kingston Sarnia Irish Village

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Recent comments

  • Irish
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Funny, the Telegram prints an article about busy Saint Paddy's day when George Street has one of the biggest and best St. Paddy's day parties in the world!! why not focus on home and print an article on how the local pubs like O'Reilly's and Kelly's are preparing for the day or should i say the week. Newfoundlanders sure know how to do it right when it comes to celebrating their Irish roots. Enjoy Paddy's week.... Wish i was there!!!!

  • Irish
    July 01, 2010 - 19:54

    Funny, the Telegram prints an article about busy Saint Paddy's day when George Street has one of the biggest and best St. Paddy's day parties in the world!! why not focus on home and print an article on how the local pubs like O'Reilly's and Kelly's are preparing for the day or should i say the week. Newfoundlanders sure know how to do it right when it comes to celebrating their Irish roots. Enjoy Paddy's week.... Wish i was there!!!!