The holidays are officially over and more likely than not, your pocket books are a little lighter than they were 4 weeks ago.
Between paying for airfare, gifts, wining and dining, the holiday season can cause a hurting on your budget.
So when I'm spending money hand over fist on fruit cake and egg nog, I don't know about you, but I like to seek out more "affordable" places to dine out around town. But I'm not looking for cheap and crappy. I'm looking for reasonably priced, well prepared food. Though there are certainly places that fit the bill, they can be hard to come by. The good news is, however, if you fail and fail and fail again when seeking them out...at least you didn't spend too much on it.
A few weeks ago during one of those days that barely broke 20 degrees, the hubby and I set out to find an affordable and soul warming meal. We perused dozens of menus online and decided on The Irish Rover...apparently so did half of Louisville because the place was absolutely packed.
After ice skating to the front door we walked into a warm, bustling restaurant and were lucky enough to grab a booth. Without even having to look at the menu we knew we wanted to start off with some Irish whiskeys...Powers Irish whiskey to be more precise. Nick and I became huge Powers fans a few years back and were very happy to see they offered it here. We took this as a sign that we might be in for some authentic Irish grub.
After warming ourselves from the inside out with a few whiskeys it was time for dinner. Nick has never had a scotch egg but after hearing some time back that it was a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried, he's been dying to try one.
The scotch egg was awesome(pictured at top). Fried perfectly. Yummy pub food. Perfect for a cold day. We were a bit surprised that they only gave one per order, but at $3.95 a pop, it was a pretty inexpensive and yummy treat.
Now onto entrees.
This place had a menu of bar-type food that could choke a horse. The food, representing bar-type-food from a number of different cultures ranged from a grilled chicken sandwich to bangers and mash, and most everything on the menu was priced around $10. Wanting to try out some "traditional" Irish pub grub we ordered the Cottage Pie and the Dublin Smokies.
The hubby ordered the Cottage Pie because it was, in essence, a mix between a Guinness beef stew and a shepherds pie. It seemed like a two-fer. It was a bread bowl filled with stew and topped with mashed potatoes. When it arrived it seemed massive. This huge hunk of potato topped bread was placed in front of the hubby and his eyes lit up. Unfortunately, the joy was short lived.
When he actually dug into the bowl he found a very small amount of stew...a very large amount of bread...and a pile of potatoes. He said it was yummy enough but bread and potatoes with a hint of stew wasn't exactly what he had in mind.
I ordered the Dublin Smokies which was described as "a famous dish from the old-time Dublin street markets". It was supposed to be a casserole of smoked haddock and salmon, shrimp, garlic, onions and tomatoes, all baked in a cream sauce and topped with cheese. Personally, I pictures a chunky fish stew type thing baked off in a casserole dish. What I got wasn't quite that.
Have you ever opened a tin of cat food? Picture the texture of cat food and then mix in some whole shrimp. Now throw this mixture, as is, into a gratin dish, top it with some cheese and a few diced tomatoes. This was my dinner.
Now, I have to say...the taste wasn't all bad. It wasn't all good either, but it was the consistency that threw me for a loop...and trust me...I'll eat anything.
I pretty much never send back food. It holds up dinner for the rest of the party and unless the mistake is egregious, I can typically live with it. I didn't send this back and instead decided to put the warm, let's call it "seafood spread" on some dinner bread that was on the table. This helped the texture problem and made me feel as though I was eating a completed dish instead of warm cat food. I hate to give reviews where I call things cat food, but honestly, there's no better way to describe this texture.
Now, I've never had this dish in Ireland. It could quite possibly be exactly the way they make it there and it might also be a hometown favorite so I don't want to poo-poo on the dish as a whole. But I'm shocked that this dish is still on the menu at The Irish Rover. I can't imagine that many people come back for seconds of it.
As an added note before I come to my conclusion I should mention that the service was very good. The host and hostesses at the front were warm and helpful, and our server was attentive and pleasant.
Here's where the "you get what you pay for" part comes into play. Nick's meal cost $10.95 and mine was a mere $9.95. I suppose I shouldn't have expected a chunky Irish seafood stew with real pieces of fish for under $10, but I did. Nick's dish, however, if done right and served with a proper amount of stew in the bowl should really HAVE been priced at $10, and so his felt like a true rip-off.
So sometimes you hit and sometimes you miss when you're searching for affordable (and delicious) food around town. This to me, unfortunately, was a miss. But the silver lining was that we got a few glasses of our favorite Irish whiskey. Nick tried a scotch egg for the first time. And even though the entrees were a disappointment, we didn't really spend too much for the experience, so we had enough left in our pockets to try again somewhere else.