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St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, but you don’t have to wait until then to devour these dishes inspired by the Emerald Isle.

Irish Burger
Spats, Appleton

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The Irish Burger, served year-round at Spats in Appleton, should be on every Hibernophile’s bucket list. (It was featured in Yahoo Travel’s “50 Most Over-The-Top Burgers in Every State.”) Spats owner Bill Neubert says the restaurant has been offering the burger for the past four years and it’s basically a rueben on top of a burger – a 1/3 pound angus beef patty topped with a generous serving of corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, then slathered with Thousand Island dressing. All those hefty ingredients need the correct support and a Manderfield’s hoagie does the job. But the party doesn’t stop there. During the week of St. Patrick’s Day, Spats serves up classic corned beef and cabbage, the same corned beef that’s on the Irish Burger. Neubert says the restaurant is well known for its corned beef which is slow roasted for 12 hours to achieve maximum tenderness. “Last year we went through 3,000 pounds of corned beef,” Nubert says. “It’s a busy time of year around here.”

Shepherd’s Pie

Beefeaters British Grille & Ale House, Appleton

Beefeaters_Shepards_PieShepherd’s Pie originated in the United Kingdom and is commonly served throughout Ireland in both homes and restaurants. Beefeaters British Grille & Ale House in Appleton serves up a version all their own. “Ours is a little more British, but it’s one of my favorite hearty meals,” says Dana Reader, Beefeaters managing partner and co-owner. “For us, it’s being able to have some fun with the menu.” Traditionally, a Shepherd’s Pie starts with minced lamb, but at Beefeaters it begins with ground Angus beef that’s browned, then mixed with gravy and Worcestershire sauce. Next comes the veggies – corn, peas and carrots, to be exact. The mixture is put in a ramekin and dolloped with creamy mashed potatoes. The whole thing is set in the broiler to crisp the top and edges of the potatoes and the result is pure comfort food magic. “It’s warm and fills you up on a cold day,” Reader says. FYI: Beefeaters serves traditional corned beef and cabbage as a special on St. Patrick’s Day. Have the full Irish experience by starting off your meal with a cup of the cream of Irish potato soup and a draught Guinness or Smithwick’s on the side.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Greene’s Pour House, Neenah

17309293_1003934739736689_903071370606328775_nSt. Patrick’s Day is personal for Bobby Greene, owner of Greene’s Pour House. With Irish roots on both his mother’s and father’s sides of the family, Greene celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with fervor at his Neenah restaurant. As a special on St. Patrick’s Day only, visitors can order a huge serving of traditional corned beef and cabbage that’s paired with carrots and potatoes. Not a corned beef fan? Try the Shepherd’s Pie instead, another special being served at Greene’s for the holiday. Finish off your meal with a piece of Irish cheesecake infused with Jameson Irish Whiskey. To enhance the festive food, the meal will be accompanied by a live Irish band. Reservations are not accepted, so if there is a wait, have a seat at the bar where Jameson drink specials will be in full swing. The rowdy crowd, live music and food will create the ambiance of an authentic Irish pub.

Ennis Lamb Shank

St. Brendan’s Inn, Green Bay

Dining_St BrendansDavid Pickering, assistant general manager at St. Brendan’s Inn in Green Bay, says the restaurant’s menu focuses on classic Irish comfort food, but guests are always extra delighted by the Ennis lamb shank. “The lamb shank has a wow-factor because it’s a whole shank on the plate,” he says. “When we bring it out to customers, their eyes light up.” Executive Chef Emily Ambrose says lamb and mutton are staples of Irish cooking, as is the slow-cooking technique used in the shank’s preparation. The entree is served with mashed potatoes, root vegetables and Guinness gravy, which is a two-day job to make. “Everything do we in our kitchen is a labor of love,” Pickering says. Ambrose says all the chefs at St. Brendan’s have their own signature cooking style, which keeps things interesting. How will you know it’s one of Ambrose’s dishes you are devouring? “I’m a big fan of finishing everything with butter,” she says. “There’s never enough.” St. Patrick’s Day is quite the spectacle at St. Brendan’s and includes live Irish music under an outdoor tent, bagpipers in traditional dress, a fundraiser for St. Baldwick’s Foundation and even a blessing of the shamrocks performed by a priest.

Fish and Chips

McGuinness Irish Pub, Appleton 

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A trip to Ireland isn’t complete without at least one serving of fish and chips, a popular take-away meal to order from fish and chip shops, also known as “chippers,” in Ireland. “Fish is huge in Ireland,” says Matt Miller, owner of McGuinness Irish Pub in Appleton. “A lot of livelihoods are made through the fishing trade.” McGuinness serves fish and chips made with Guinness-battered cod filets baked to a golden brown and served with french fries, coleslaw, rye bread and tartar sauce. The menu also includes Irish fare like bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes) and Irish stew (a hearty blend of meat and vegetables). Every Thursday, the pub serves traditional corned beef and cabbage — a plate loaded with slow-cooked corned beef, cabbage wedges, carrots and boxty which are similar to potato pancakes. As a special during St. Patrick’s Day weekend, McGuinness will be serving a full Irish breakfast starting at 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. The “full Irish” includes boxty, two eggs over-easy, sliced tomatoes, rashers (Irish bacon), brown bread, baked beans and black and white pudding, otherwise known as blood sausage. “We want to remain as authentic as possible which includes the food,” Miller says. “It’s all about the hospitality, the culture, the music and dance and, of course, the beer and whiskey.”

Join McGuinness Irish Pub on Saturday, February 17 as they showcase Ireland, its culture, history, food, music and dance as a precursor to St. Patrick’s Day. The pub will open at 12 p.m. and activities include discussions, food and beverage samplings and performances. Watch for the full schedule on McGuinness Irish Pub’s Facebook page.

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