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Pub is grubbin’

Paddy Coyne's Irish Pub serves tasty pub grub

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ANNOUNCER: There is a comical quote attributed to National Review columnist and notorious right-wing homophobe John Derbyshire that sums up many people’s notions about Irish cuisine: “We put the food in boiling water. Then we go and hoe the fields for 10 hours or so. Then we have a ‘ceili’ (dance party) for a few hours. Then, when we have slept off the ‘ceili,’ we go to Mass, followed by quiet private devotions for the rest of the day. Then we take the food out.”

It’s true: Irish cuisine is not particularly refined, complex, exotic or innovative. It’s functional food.

JAKE: Wow.  Um. Before you readers sharpen up your Wüsthofs and start firing off e-mails, rest assured that Mr. Announcer is very aware of the “New Irish Cuisine” currently sweeping cities such as Dublin. I know that Irish eating is suddenly hip. It’s not difficult these days in urban Ireland to find restaurant dishes such as baked cod in a tomato-cream and sorrel sauce or salmon topped with a sauce of watercress and fresh herbs. In the southwest of Ireland, a new cuisine is emerging, blending traditional Irish fare with French cooking techniques and ingredients.

JASON: Are you two clowns aware that we’re reviewing Paddy Coyne’s here in Tacoma?

JAKE: Aye, Pat “Paddy” Coyne’s Tacoma version of his popular Irish pub in Seattle’s South Lake Union opened in January on Pacific Avenue. He and his business partner, James Schmidt, nailed the Irish motif — dark woods and low lighting give it a warm feeling; the circa-1912 back bar, carved by Franciscan monks, squeezes the narrow room.

JASON: Although not as grand as F.X. McRory’s in Seattle, Paddy’s creates a similar feeling as said Pioneer Square restaurant — a refined pub atmosphere where penning a business deal inside makes sense. While Doyle’s Public House up on St Helens leans more toward a workingman’s pub where a party could ignite at any second (and often does), Paddy’s, while it does become boisterous, sees more of a business crowd before sunset.

JAKE: Old-fashioned Irish dishes like champ, coddle, colcannon, barm-brack and boxty don’t flow out the kitchen.  Instead, simple and comforting “Irish cuisine” fills Paddy’s menu broken into starters, burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, mains and sweets.

JASON: My first visit was just for drinks.  The high seats nudged against the bar provide a commanding view of the drink slinging acrobats.  The friendly bartender bantered back and forth with me.  I ordered Guinness, of course, a drink that is well respected in this establishment.  The pour was perfectly creamy, and the pint glasses heavy and firm.  It was Irish heaven.

JAKE: Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s dominate Paddy’s nine taps, which include Pilsner Urquell, Stella Artois, Mac and Jack, and Paddy’s IPA brewed by Seattle’s Pacific Rim. Booze aplenty including the power trio of Jameson, Powers and Bushmills.

Paddy’s pours Guinness over Irish red ale Smithwick’s for its black and tans, which marries well with the traditional Irish dish — chicken quesadilla.

JASON: Ah yes, the Irish quesadilla — born out of the conflict between the North and the South.  I’m giving a top rating to the Guinness-braised beef stew.  A large bowl of meat and root vegetables in a rich brown Guinness gravy with soda bread riding shotgun.  I wonder if it’s similar to how Tony Soprano calls red sauce gravy?  In Ireland, the beer is gravy? 

JAKE: For hearty meals, I recommend the Pub Style Meat Loaf.  It marries ground sausage and beef — without flour or oat fillers — with Coyne’s secret spices. My server Brooke wouldn’t come clean with the recipe.  Served with country gravy and carrots, it was spicy tasty.  A meat loaf sandwich hits the menu this week.  

JASON: The meat salad, or as Paddy calls it, the Seared Steak Salad, was another excellent choice on my part (man I’m good).  The pepper crusted sirloin is sliced and served on greens with a warm bacon vinegarette and chunks of bleu cheese.  This could be a favorite summer meal of mine. 

JAKE: The Fog City Steak Sandwich arrives with a sweet skirt steak marinated in ginger, soy and sesame oil draped on a heavily garlic buttered French bread half without the sesame seeds topping stated on the menu.  It’s a light meal with four tomato slices and a million shoestring fries.

JASON: That was the end of my menu surfing.  I didn’t order off the dessert menu, but instead went with another Guinness with no regrets.

JAKE: I also had alcohol for dessert. I skipped the Irish whiskey praline ice cream and Irish whiskey trifle for the worthy rich, massive chocolate break pudding with Jameson butterscotch sauce.  At Paddy Coyne’s it’s booze for dessert.

Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub

Where: 721 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.272. 6963

Hours: 11 a.m.-2 a.m. daily

Scene: A dark, narrow front room with booths, tables and bar seats opening up behind the fireplace to a larger back room.  Business crowd meets guys watching soccer meets couples kissing before the fireplace.

Menu: Irish pub-grub such as beef stew, shepherd’s pie, steak sandwiches, Reuben, fish and chips, burgers, and a delicious grilled cheese with bacon, tomato and white cheddar, and pulled pork sandwich.  Monday night is $3.99 steak and chips night from 3-9 p.m.

Drinkies: Full bar with everything Irish

Damage: Moderate, pub-priced grub

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