http://www.irishtimessaratoga.com/

I know I’ve mentioned this place in conjunction with another Irish pub in the area, but I’ve been going here often enough that it deserves its own entry.

Why do I like this place?

  Beer.  This region is fortunate in having some quite excellent brewers, and my favorite local (Davidson Brothers — coming from Texas, Glens Falls is absolutely close enough for me to consider it local) always has something on at least one (usually two) of the taps.  Irish Times has lots of taps, and keeps rotating new brews in so that there’s something new to try.  The only quibble is that sometimes the beer you want is upstairs, and if there isn’t a waitron to get it for you, you’re SOL.

Food.  The great thing about the food here, is that when you get a meal, you actually get a meal. Not just a meat-based product with some version of a fried potato (though those are definitely available) but also some accompanying vegetables.  They seem to vary it occasionally; for a while it was a combination of baby carrots and green beans, lately it’s been white beans, carrots and squash.  Some particularly notable entrees are:

Corned beef and cabbage –  The ne plus ultra of stereotypical Irish food.  So.  Flipping.  Good.   Seriously, the best I’ve had out, and frankly better than most of my friends make.  The corned beef is nice and lean, served as an enormous slab, with a pile of delicious, butter-laden mashed potatoes and a generous wedge of well-cooked (and by that, I mean cooked well, not overcooked) cabbage.  The only things wrong with this are that it doesn’t have carrots like my Mom’s version, and the fact that I can’t eat a meal of this magnitude on a regular basis without being unable to fit on a bar stool.  You’ll need two pints of Davidson’s Red for this one.

Boxty –  This dish is available in three versions:  curry chicken, curry steak, and Irish stew.  I’ve yet to try the stew version, I need to rectify that.  But the chicken and steak versions are both delicious, and with their vegetable sides project the illusion of being healthy food.  Yummy, and more reasonable than the corned beef.  You’ll probably want a couple of pints (again, I’d go with the Red) but you could get away with one.

Irish Breakfast – Four (4) kinds of pork on one plate, are you kidding me?  If I could make one change, I’d have them open a couple hour earlier so I could get this on days I wake up on normal person hours and don’t feel like waiting until 11:00 for breakfast.  Dear squeamish people:  black pudding is delicious, get over it.  And the lonely slice of grilled tomato isn’t just a fig leaf in the midst of all this meaty goodness, it really does serve as a nice, acidic complement to all the other components.  I find myself intrigued by the bangers.  I don’t remember eating this kind of soft, white centered/red cased sausages when I was in England, I don’t know if this is an English/Irish difference, or if there is another story behind these.  For this mal, I’ll break out the Davidson’s Brown, or Brown’s Oatmeal Stout, but I think a pint of the new Irish Times Dry Stout would also be lovely with this.

Shepherd’s Pie – Lovely, it’s what I go for when I’m in the mood for spiced beef, though that happens  infrequently with the three above dishes on the menu.

Fish and Chips – I’m a bit conflicted about this dish.  It consists of a platter-length haddock fillet on a pile of fries, with a cup of coleslaw (served in a cabbage leaf for style points) tucked in where they can find a place for it.  The fish is perfectly done.  The fries are a bit ordinary.  I’d frankly rather have their competitor’s fries underneath the fish, but they don’t fry their fish as well.  But my main problem is that haddock, like most whitefish, is just a little boring.  And the vinegar they serve with it is also kind of weak.  So you’re more reliant on their tartar sauce, which is ok, but I prefer a good, strong malt vinegar.  Still, the overall mildness of this entrée makes it much easier to pair with any of the less assertive beers that they have on tap.

 Parking.  There is a two storey parking lot right next to them.  While this doesn’t affect the quality of the food, it does make it awfully convenient for a spur of the moment lunch.

I’m sure at some point I’ll be able to try their desserts.  Haven’t ever had enough room left after the meal at this point.

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