Paddy O’Toole’s may be just a memory, but as luck would have it, a new Gaelic eatery, Lucky Irish Pub, has taken over the location. The spot may be the same, and both businesses Ireland-inspired, but just about everything else has changed. “We wanted a true Irish pub, not a bar that sounded like an Irish pub, ” Chef Stuart Reb Donald says. The space has been completely revamped. “We tore everything out – walls, ceiling, floors and even replaced the air conditioner and the duct system. We only left the walk-in cooler when it was all said and done, ” Donald says. The quartet of new owners, Paul Dunning, David Shipman and Dipan and Anand Patel, did love the dartboards and gaming areas, so they brought those back and even added to them.
The big surprise, however, is not the lighter, brighter interior. It’s the food. Lucky’s menu features classic bar fare and comfort foods gone gourmet. Donald puts his creative culinary spin on everything from the bevy of exceptional burgers on buttery, toasted, sweet-sourdough buns, right down to the house-made condiments. “The menu reflects the fun to be had at the pub with rotating specials like the Case O’Dilla, a Reuben in quesadilla form, or the Paddy Melt, an ode to Paddy’s, consisting of a half-pound Angus burger on toasted rye with Ulster aioli, cheddar, Swiss and bacon, ” Donald says. The fried Reuben is a highlight. He also makes a Shepherd’s Pie to fantasize about. The desserts are limited but lavish: fried brownie bites drizzled with white chocolate or Irish coffee beignets.
Even the beer has gotten snazzy. The general manager, Jason Miller, is a veteran bar manager and craft beer enthusiast. It is Miller’s goal to turn the pub into a genuine beer lovers’ destination. In February, they hosted their first food and beer pairing dinner with ales and lagers from Fairhope Brewing Company, and they hope to hold more with other craft brewers. But, back to the party. “Paddy’s was always known for their annual St. Patrick’s Day party, ” Donald says. “So, we are going to continue the tradition and make it even bigger and longer, starting this year with a three-day event featuring bands from around the Gulf Coast. We’ll have more tents and even some charity fundraiser events.” Sláinte and Erin Go Braugh!
ON THE MENU
Pub-made potato chips, left, are laden with traditional Rueben ingredients, such as corned beef, sauerkraut, Lucky’s gooey beer cheese soup and house-made Thousand Island dressing. There’s also some bacon and more melted cheddar thrown in for good measure.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
This nifty twist on a classic could be a starter, side dish or warm salad. Brussels sprouts are served halved and tossed with thin ribbons of corned beef and bacon with crisped edges, all slicked with balsamic white truffle vinegar.
An upscale version of the standard featuring ultra tender bites of filet mignon and vegetables in a savory gravy. The must-have comes laced with Guinness stout and Worcestershire, capped with mashed potatoes and crowned with a layer of melted cheddar.
Irish Coffee Beignets
Fried wonton wrappers are filled with a sweet, rich blend of cream cheese, Kahlua and a splash of Maker’s Mark, dusted generously with powdered sugar.
Lucky Irish Pub & Grill • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily. 3692 Airport Blvd. 414-3000.
text by Sallye Irvine • photo by Elise Poché