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Thursday, March 10, 2005 09:03 am

appetite 3-10-05

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The celebration of St. Patrick’s Day begins early at D’Arcy’s Pint. The staff begins the day at 7 a.m., serving several hundred people a breakfast buffet of homemade corned-beef hash, potatoes O’Brien (fried potatoes with peppers and onions), and traditional items such as bacon and sausage. At 11 a.m., lunch begins, featuring a mouthwatering special menu that makes everyone want to be Irish — even if just for a day.

Co-owner Hallie Pierceall will be dishing up homemade colcannon (a mixture of mashed potatoes, cream, cabbage, and kale), boxty, corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and other Irish specialties, just as she’s done for the past seven years. Some menu items, such as shepherd’s pie, Reuben sandwiches, and corned-beef ponyshoes, are available at Springfield’s premier Irish pub throughout the year. But Pierceall also makes unique dishes, such as a marinated-cabbage salad, just for the popular Irish holiday.

“I think a lot of people look forward to St. Patrick’s Day because it may be the only time of the year they get corned beef and cabbage,” she says. “We serve it all year round, but a lot of places only serve it on that day. It’s a great holiday. Whether you’re Irish or not, you are on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a fun, upbeat holiday, and people look forward to something different.”

The pub will also serve a special Irish menu, including Dublin pot roast, on March 19, after the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade. “It’s going to be different this year since the parade is a few days after St. Patrick’s Day,” says Pierceall, who predicts that many customers will come in for a pint of ale and late lunch after the parade.

“We sell a lot of shepherd’s pie and corned beef and cabbage [on St. Patrick’s Day],” says Pierceall, who, despite having no Irish heritage, has mastered the art of Irish cooking through lots of experimentation. “We came up with our own little version of the shepherd’s pie.” She makes Irish stew with potatoes, carrots, leeks, kale, and beef rather than the traditional lamb. Guinness, which tenderizes the meat, is the secret ingredient, she says. “I do it in stages. It takes practice,” says Pierceall, who warmed up for the holiday by making a large batch two weeks ago.

In addition to Irish food and bagpipe music, patrons will also enjoy black-and-tans (at this watering hole, Guinness and Bass ale), as well as traditional Irish coffee, made with whiskey, brown sugar, whipped cream, and nutmeg. But green beer will only be served on request — no self-respecting Irishman would actually put food coloring in his beer!

This will be the last St. Patrick’s Day for the popular pub at its MacArthur Boulevard location. In May, D’Arcy’s will move to a new, larger location at 661 W. Stanford Ave. “We’re really excited about it,” Pierceall says. The new spot will offer an additional 20 or 30 seats in the main dining area, an outdoor dining area, and a banquet room to accommodate an overflow of customers. “Right now we’re so maxed out,” she says.

When Pierceall and business partner Glenn Merriman opened the restaurant seven years ago, they chose an Irish theme because of the feeling it evoked. “We wanted something comfortable and welcoming. The first thing that came to mind was an Irish pub,” says Pierceall, who has visited the Emerald Isle a few times. “It’s a feeling you get when you walk into a pub like that — you always feel you are at home.”

She says the pair plans to keep the atmosphere the same at the new location, although the menu may be expanded.

D’Arcy’s Pint, located for now at 2413 S. MacArthur Blvd. (217-726-9800), isn’t the only local place to get corned beef and cabbage this St. Pat’s. Here are a few other Springfield favorites: the Lime Street Café (951 S. Durkin Dr., 217-793-1905), the Sportsman’s Lounge (229 W. Mason St., 217-522-1191), the Track Shack (233 E. Laurel St., 217-522-0444), Norb Andy’s Tabarin (518 E. Capitol Ave., 217-523-7777), and the Barrel Head (1577 W. Wabash Ave., Jerome, 217-787-2102).

Come and get it
Smokey Bones Barbeque and Grill will be serving free pulled-pork sandwiches on March 15 to the first 100 guests at every restaurant nationwide — including the one located at 2660 S. Dirksen Parkway (217-528-6410) in Springfield. The chain, owned by Darden Restaurants, is celebrating the opening of its 100th restaurant. Smokey Bones, which opens at 11 a.m., serves slow-smoked barbecue, pulled-pork sandwiches, ribs, brisket, steaks, grilled chicken, and fish.

Spanish Soirée
Corkscrew Wine Emporium will offer a Spanish wine dinner March 22 at Soirée Bistro, 2824 Plaza Dr. Diners who attend the event, “Tapas on Tuesday,” will be served a creative menu featuring an appetizer course with sparkling wine, olives, and cheese, plus a variety of cold and hot tapas courses matched with Spanish wines. The cost is $55 per person. To make reservations, which are required, call the Corkscrew at 217-698-1112.

D’Arcy’s Pint Bacon Boxty
(Traditional Irish potato cakes)

Ingredients
1 cup uncooked hash browns
3 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1 cup cheese sauce
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 cup diced fresh bacon bits
Pinches of salt and pepper

Directions
Mix mashed potatoes and hash browns together, then add cheese sauce, green onions and bacon. Blend well and add salt and pepper. In separate container, mix 2 cups flour, salt, and pepper. Using small ice-cream scoop to measure out portions, roll potato mixture into ball and pack firmly. Roll in flour mixture and form into small cakes. Cook cakes approximately 3 minutes or until golden brown in 350-degree oil. Top with extra cheese sauce. Cakes may also be pan-fired or cooked on a griddle. (Note: For cheese sauce, use any cheese that melts well, such as mozzarella or provolone.)

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