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Thursday, March 11, 2004 07:04 am

Tastes of the Emerald Isle

Lime Street Café offers St. Pat’s Day specials — but no green beer

St. Patrick's Day can be celebrated by donning a "Kiss me, I'm Irish" pin, watching the downtown parade and eating some cooked cabbage washed down with green beer. That may be fun for some, but others know March 17 is the day when slow-roasted corned beef, colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage), and homemade Irish soda bread are on the menu at local pubs and restaurants.

At Lime Street Café (951 S. Durkin Dr., 793-1905), regulars wait with anticipation for St. Pat's specials such as corned beef and cabbage with boiled potatoes and Irish stew (made with lamb, potatoes, carrots and onions). The pub also will serve Reuben sandwiches, hot corned beef on rye with Swiss cheese, homemade Irish soda bread, and potato and leek soup.

Owner Linda Tyrer says the restaurant goes through 140 pounds of corned beef brisket, not including the beef round used to make sandwiches. There's a reason the corned beef special always sells out: "We cook it for a long time and have special seasonings that we put in to bake it, and them top it with a special glaze prior to serving," she says.

Tyrer's husband, Richard, was born in England and some of the restaurant's Irish recipes, like stew, were handed down from his mother and Irish grandmother. But the corned beef and cabbage is strictly American. "We've just made it an Irish tradition in America," she says.

About 30 loaves of Irish soda bread are made for the special holiday. "There are different kinds. Some people put caraway in it. There's an 'everyday' variety and a 'Sunday' variety, which is what we make, which has a little sugar and golden raisins," Tyrer says. "It's a fun day. Actually, St. Patrick's Day is like New Year's Eve for us. It's almost our biggest day of the year."

Lime Street Café offers another draw: The St. Andrew's Pipes and Drums, which has been entertaining customers on St. Patrick's Day since 1989. The group's scheduled to play the bagpipes at 11:30 a.m. and again around 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

There's one thing Lime Street Café won't offer. "We don't do green beer," Tyrer says. But there'll be plenty of other drink specials, featuring Baileys Irish Cream and Irish whiskeys, such as Bushmills.

Of course, on St. Pat's, it's hard not to think of D'Arcy's Pint (2413 S. Macarthur Blvd., 726-9800). The restaurant's always packed with revelers who come for the music and true Irish pub atmosphere. A limited menu focuses on corned beef and cabbage, as well as Irish items like owner Hallie Pierceall's homemade colcannon. The dreamy Irish mixture of mashed potatoes, cream, cabbage and kale is just one of the reasons customers pack her restaurant. Other Irish specialties include Shepherd's Pie, with mashed potatoes, ground beef and cheese, and boxty, an Irish potato pancake with bacon and scallions. Irish music and a live radio broadcast are also on tap for the big day.

Among other Springfield spots for true Irish culinary delights:

The Sportsman's Lounge (229 W. Mason St., 522-1191): Corned beef and cabbage, potatoes and rye bread will be served from 4 -9 p.m. March 13 and from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4 -9 p.m. March 17. This pub's Irish stew, which will also be on the menu both days, is made with beef, rather than lamb. "We're not that Irish," laughed a waitress. Bagpipers will also be on hand to provide music at 7 p.m. both days.

Brewhaus (617 E. Washington St., 525-6399): Corned beef and cabbage and Reuben sandwiches will be served starting at 11 a.m. on March 13 and 17. Bagpipers will also play March 13.

Track Shack (233 E. Laurel St., 522-0444): The lunch menu includes corned beef sandwiches and corned beef and cabbage, served with new potatoes, carrots and rye bread. The specials will be available from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on March 17.

Norb Andy's Tabarin (518 E. Capitol St., 523-7777): Corned beef and cabbage will be served during lunch hours, and offered as a dinner with soup and salad during evening hours March 13 and 17. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Breakfast (eggs, bacon, and sausage and breakfast horseshoes) will also be served the day of the St. Pat's parade (March 13) from 8:30-11 a.m. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

The Barrel Head (1577 W. Wabash Ave., Jerome, 787-2102): Corned beef and cabbage will be offered March 13-17.

Irish fare

If you don't want to fight the crowds, try making your own Irish meal at home:

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Horseradish (serves 8)

1 corned beef brisket, about 4 pounds
1 onion
3 whole cloves
4 parsley sprigs
8 whole black peppercorns
2 pounds cabbage
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Peel onion and stick with cloves. Put corned beef, onion, parsley, and peppercorns in a large pot and cover with water. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook gently until tender, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Cut cabbage into wedges and core. Add to the pot, cover and simmer until tender, about 30 minutes. Combine sour cream with horseradish. Serve the meat and cabbage with some of the broth ladled over all and the horseradish on the side.

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