Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Irish-American Spirit

Truth be told, the Fearless Tasting Crew doesn't go out a lot on St. Patrick's Day. It's one of those holidays that just seems to draw the amateurs out to ruin any good drinking experience you might have. (Yes, we're looking at you too, Cinco de Mayo and day before Thanksgiving.)

But we've at least had to think about reconsidering our thoughts after a recent experience at Fado Irish Pub here in Denver. Yes, Fado is a chain. But it seems to be doing something right on the local level.

That right thing can be divided into three categories: food, beer and atmosphere. (And, no, I didn't intend that to rhyme originally.)

First - and most importantly - the beer part. An Irish pub must have Irish beer, and Fado does. But making it creative - such as the new Black Velvet drink (pictured above) that combines Guinness and Strongbow Cider in a dry combo with an apple backbone - is notable. And to be able to wash that down with quality American beers like an Odell Myrcenary, well, that's just knowing your good beer audience.

Second, the food. The restaurant just introduced a new menu with a number of options. You should avoid the pulled lamb French dip, a tasty-sounding entree that's a bit too fatty and greasy for its own good. But the blackened chicken & shrimp boxty (pictured above) is a dinner big on the taste and small on the spice burn. And the cheese dip and wedges, an appetizer that combines boxty bread and a thick peppery cheese, is just good beer food (appropriate especially for post-10 p.m. snacking.)

Finally, there is the atmosphere. In 2005, I traveled with a group of six other friends to Ireland, and the task of finding actual Irish music in a pub was equivalent to finding Waldo in a striped-shirt convention. But on Monday nights at least, Denver's Fado welcomes impromptu Irish music, gathering fiddlers and guitarists and letting it flow in a way that is pleasant without being overwhelming. And that is a nice addition to the city's drinking scene.

This is not an recommendation to go out on St. Patrick's Day, when the crew of idiots drinking Bud Light and wearing "Kiss Me" badges can be overwhelming. But the changes are pleasant enough where Fado becomes a legitimate post-Rockies-game gathering place for  beer geeks looking for an atmosphere that's slightly different.

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