Saturday, 1 August 2015

The Celtic Girls Visit Donaleigh's Irish Pub House

You never know where you will meet a new friend. Heidi and I only worked together for perhaps a week, until she found her calling in a kitchen elsewhere, but in that short time we really hit it off. We bonded over talk of our shared Celtic roots. Heidi spent time on a working holiday in Ireland in her youth, while I went to Scotland. We both have 4+ children and have tendencies towards becoming crazy cat ladies in the future!

It took as a while, and a lot of schedule studying, but Heidi and I finally made a lunch date to meet up again. Where should we eat? What better place for two Gaelic girls to grab a bite than Donaleigh's Irish Pub House on Dunlop St., just around the corner from where we once cooked together.

The summer had been slow to start, with cool and rainy weather, which is kind of appropriate when you think of it, but on this July Saturday the sun came out and brought some heat with it. I arrived first at Donaleigh's and was seated on the street side patio in a place where I could watch for Heidi's arrival. I half considered sitting inside Donaleigh's spacious and air conditioned dining room, but summer is short in these parts and I was determined to enjoy this outdoor setting come hell or heatstroke.

It was a bit warm out there, but the little drink coaster set down on the table by my server gave me an idea for a cure - a cold glass of Somersby cider! Barely known in Canada for years, cider, my favourite drink, has finally taken off in a big way here.

Aha, there's Heidi! The menus were flipped open but of course more chatting than deciding went on. I'm sure seasoned servers can tell which diners haven't seen each other for a while! This was not Heidi's first visit so she was quick with her decision. I was boggled by the delicious sounding choices,

Actually, I was torn three ways. I love a good old fashioned fish and chips, and everyone tells me they are the best here, but that is such an easy go-to for me. All the big foodie buzz in the past year or so has been about fish tacos, whatever they are. I should try this. Then again, my daughter and her boyfriend come here just for the Irish nachos.

Heidi chose the chicken and leek pot pie while I took the fish taco plunge. While we waited, I saw some marvelous looking meals come out. I was very impressed by the way the shepherd's pie was presented in a long ceramic dish, topped with thick swirls of mashed potato browned under a broiler and set onto a plate with colourful vegetables.

Heidi's pot pie looked wonderful too. Also in a ceramic boat like dish, puff pasty struggled to contain an overflowing mix of creamy sauce, peas, carrots, leek and chicken and was topped with an artsy little shamrock made from the same pastry. How cute! Some tasty looking sweet potato fries sat beside it.

I wasn't sure what to expect with my fish taco. My little bit of pre-lunch research told me that they almost always come in a soft taco shell but the filling varies wildly. The fish may or may not be battered and is often stuffed with coleslaw. So my first ever fish taco was the Galway fish taco here at Donaleigh's, which is a very light non-battered haddock, seasoned and stuffed into a taco with mango salsa and shredded cabbage. I had a very good pile of fresh cut fries with that too.

All in all, that was a very nice meal. Great food, a superb setting and very fine company. I must commend the lovely servers for their patience. Most of my catch-up lunch dates with friends often turn out to be 3 hour gab sessions and this one was no different!

Now I need to go back. I still want to try the fish and chips. (I hear there is a $10.00 special on this on Friday nights - or is that a rumour??) Must try those Irish nachos. Now I see a Celtic curry on the menu. Oh boy - I have a lot of eating to do!

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