Cari Taylor-Carlson

County Clare Makes a Meal of Sandwiches

With a made-from-scratch quality. Along with great Irish draft beers.

By - Aug 24th, 2016 03:12 pm
County Clare Irish Pub. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

County Clare Irish Pub. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Sometimes I decide in advance which restaurant to review, invite a friend or two, and make a plan to eat there at least twice. Other times there is no plan, as on the recent Friday night when friends and I expected to enjoy food and live music at Café at the Plaza. That’s when we learn this weekend music-in-the-garden venue has become a thing, so popular that people were lined up before they opened at 5:00, the manager tells us.

We wait thirty minutes. No one leaves, not even the table with the crying baby.

After a phone call to County Clare to score a street-side table, we walk a few blocks north to enjoy a lovely, balmy summer eve, as we dine well and watch the sun set.

We stay with the sandwich menu where the portions are generous. I could have ordered the County Clare Meatloaf Specialty with caramelized onion gravy, served with seasonal vegetables and maybe, just maybe, I would have had more meatloaf. I doubt it. My sandwich is loaded with that delicious mix of pork, beef, and veal. Not only does the meatloaf, tucked inside toasted potato bread come with that same onion gravy, it has an additional slice of provolone for even more flavor.

A friend orders the Kinsale, a mix of cod, salmon, and Irish smoked salmon, blended and fried, making it crisp on the outside, yet soft inside, full of flavors of the sea without a hint of “fishy.” More delicious in the sandwich comes from sautéed asparagus, a slice of grilled tomato, and malt vinegar aioli.

Another friend, a self-professed food-fusser, wants to order the common Roasted Turkey Breast sandwich, but only if our server guarantees the turkey was roasted in-house. “Are you sure it’s baked here?” she says. “Do you promise it’s not deli turkey?”

After she adds, “Please hold the cheese, the tomato, the lettuce, and the mayo,” the sandwich, reduced to nothing other than the bird, has slabs of turkey inside grilled whole wheat bread. This is not deli turkey. This moist, delicious, baked and sliced-in-the-kitchen turkey exceeds expectations. The picky eater is satisfied as we all are with our sandwiches.

They come with a choice of fries, garlic mashed, tater tots, cottage cheese, honey-mustard potato salad, and for an additional $.95, a small house salad.

Specialty Tap. Photo by Cari    Taylor-Carlson.

Specialty Tap. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

On the beer menu, black letters designate draft and green means bottled. Of course, nine Irish beers are on tap, including Guinness Stout, Blonde, and Nitro IPA. On the Specialty Tap menu, Guinness stars in several of the combos including Black Guinness or Guinness with black current. We try that one and find it fruity, but not too much, making an interesting blend of beer and liqueur. We think the Caramel Delight, Smirnoff Caramel Kiss and Guinness sounds like dessert and opt instead for Spotted Cow, a New Glarus favorite. Chocolate aficionados can order Chocolate Milk, Whipped Chocolate and Guinness.

On a second visit, a friend and I stay in the traditional lane with a Wisconsin Reuben and Shepherd’s Pie. Again, the meat in the Reuben, this time corned beef, comes in slabs, just like the aforementioned turkey. The Wisconsin includes Swiss cheese and sauerkraut keeping the meat moist as I find it slightly dry. That however is a minor quibble because overall this is a fine Reuben.

My friend notes my white plate garnished with shredded carrot and a green pickle matches the colors of the Irish flag.

Her Shepherd’s Pie, lamb braised with root vegetables and topped with mashed potatoes, has so much lamb that every time she digs in, her fork comes up with a big juicy bite of lamb. She says, “There is so much meat, I have to dig to find a root vegetable.” No pun intended. This dish, full of lamb, mashed potatoes, and a few carrots, meets her expectations for a traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie. We wonder how poor Irish farmers filled their pies with mainly lamb, or did their pies star the veggies?

On weekends, brunch is on the menu starting at 9:00 a.m. The Full Irish Breakfast comes with everything I ate on the Isle except the canned baked beans. At County Clare you get eggs, breakfast sausages (bangers), black and white pudding, Irish bacon (rasher), grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, brown bread, and potato. With all that tradition on the plate, people who come for brunch won’t miss the beans.

County Clare Irish Pub

On the Menu

The Rundown

One thought on “Dining: County Clare Makes a Meal of Sandwiches”

  1. Christina Zawadiwsky says:

    County Clare is lovely, whether you dine inside or out! Try the Root Soup!

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