‘Meat’ and greet St. Patrick’s Day

Restaurant review

By Josh Koerner

The Rueben sandwich from Ennis Inn, De Pere, which is under the same ownership as St. Brendan’s Inn, Green Bay.

For fans of Saint Patrick’s Day fare, though not “traditionally Irish,” there’s a host of options for those corn beef and cabbage conissourers in the area.

St Brendan’s Inn (Green Bay) and the Ennis Inn (De Pere) will offer a limited menu for its expected large crowd.

McGeorge’s Pub, also in De Pere, is working a bit of intrigue into its St. Paddy’s Day celebration this year, opting to not post a menu prior to the big day, but committing to offer customers free corned beef until supplies run out.

As these menus beef up (pardon the pun), they tend to roam further away from what a traditional Irish meal looks like.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the perception that the Irish consume mass amounts of corned beef on Saint Patrick’s Day stems from early Irish immigrants.

Fleeing religious persecution, many of America’s early Irish community gave up their material wealth in return for passage to the U.S. Immigrants could not afford bacon to prepare boiled cabbage and instead turned to cured (or corned) beef from local delis to serve as a replacement. This resulted in the dish becoming popular in the United States.

Getting to the meat of things

Origins aside, St. Brendan’s and McGeorge’s both offer delicious corned beef. While I find St. Brendan’s version to be more tender and flavorful overall, the quick sear method used by McGeorge’s seems to impose a satisfying mouthfeel that also warrants praise. Despite their great beef, the Guinness pot roast and the curry chips would be my top recommendations from the St. Brendan’s menu.

I have only tasted the corned beef from the Ennis Inn once, and in my opinion, it was quite dry and off-putting. I have since stuck to the fish and chips, which come in large portions and feature a delicious beer batter. Other highlights from the menu are the colcannon poppers – deep fried potatoes mashed together with greens – and their drunken mushrooms in a creamy ale sauce. The menu also features haggis, a dish for the more adventurous restaurant goers composed of liver, heart and lungs of sheep.

McGeorge’s has a limited menu for St. Patrick’s Day. Josh Koerner photo

With the St. Patty’s Day menu at McGeorge’s remaining a mystery, one item I would be on the lookout for in future visits is the mussels. Mussels are not a food that I am typically fond of, however, the creamy white wine and garlic sauce they are served in is so good that I would be happy to just have the sauce as a soup.

Beyond that, the garlic and herbs make a perfect compliment to the oceanic flavor of the mussel meat, and the pungent pop of the fresh rosemary brings a whole new experience to the table if you are willing to tailor your bite a bit.

It should be noted that Ennis Inn will not feature its mussels during Saint Patrick’s. If you find yourself making a special stop for the dish, I recommend St. Brendan’s, as the Ennis Inn is frequently skimpy with the white wine sauce that makes the dish.

As part of the festivities, all three pubs will be featuring live music. Additionally, McGeorge’s will be offering free t-shirts to the first 50 customers to purchase a Hinterland car bomb along with various drink specials. The Ennis Inn will also have drink specials on whiskey and beer.

St. Brendan’s will be making a full affair of the holiday. The bar will open at 9 a.m. with the Blessing of the Shamrock at 10 a.m. Food will be served starting at 11 a.m. with an outdoor tent opening at 3 p.m. The tent will feature chocolatiers. Live music will be played throughout the day, both in the tent and indoors.

Josh Koerner grew up in De Pere and has a passion for local food. To know more about his passion for food you can check out his Facebook page, Josh Eats Green Bay.
Josh Staloch contributed to this article.

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