By Jamie Swinnerton
By Mark Antonation
By Lori Midson
By Jonathan Shikes
By Amber Taufen
By Cafe Society
By Juliet Wittman
By Jonathan Shikes
At least the entrees were nicely portioned--even if there was at least one thing wrong with each of them. Besides corned beef and cabbage, of course, the idea of the quintessential Irish dish is Irish stew ($9.95) made from lamb and vegetables. But at Fado, the gnarled lamb chunks contained inedible fat and gristle, and the rutabagas weren't cooked enough, which made for some crunchy eating. Crunchiness also marred the shepherd's pie ($9.95), which was studded with big celery chunks that were nearly raw, a jarring note in an otherwise soft and fluffy mashed-potato-topped, ground-sirloin-bottomed dish. The roasted stuffed tenderloin of pork ($11.95) featured moist, well-seasoned brown-bread stuffing--but the ends of the pork were dry and chewy, and the honey-and-black-currant sauce promised on the menu was a bland goo. The sauce on the Gaelic steak ($14.95) had none of the sugary quality that Jameson whiskey can add to sauces, which means it had all cooked off, but the mushrooms and the steak itself were tasty and high-quality. And then there was that heavenly breakfast.
The sides were much better than most of the entrees. The breakfast, the steak and the pork tenderloin came with a sweet mash of carrots and turnips; the steak and pork plates also featured that ubiquitous Irish vegetable, the potato, here done in rich, creamy, scalloped style, with good browned edges and a yielding consistency.
Like the entrees, each dessert had a distracting flaw. The Irish-whiskey trifle ($3.95) was a plush custard mixed with liquor-spiked strawberry sauce and whipped cream, yet at the bottom, canned pineapple injected a cheap taste into an otherwise fine concoction. The cheesecake ($3.95) tasted nicely of Bailey's Irish Creme, but it was so soft that it fell over before the plate hit the table. The brown-bread ice cream ($3.95) was interesting, with hardened, chewy bits of the bread encased in a brown sugary ice cream; however, the promised brandy ginger-snap holder was an undercooked, doughy tuille with no ginger flavor--it tasted like a sugar cookie without the sugar. And the apple crumble ($3.95) would have been wonderful if the apples had been cooked.
On a return visit at lunch, we were wowed by the Ceili spuds ($3.95), true Tater Tots of the Gods. The deep-fried logs of potato mixed with bacon and scallions and seasoned with nutmeg were terribly addictive. The same cannot be said for the salmon, tomato and cream-cheese boxty ($7.95), despite an enthusiastic recommendation from our server. The boxty--a thin potato pancake--had been filled with Wolfgang Puck's idea of Irish food: fresh salmon smooshed together with cream cheese and a runny tomato concasse until it resembled a salmon Slurpee. And the fish and chips ($7.95) boasted really delicious cod, but the kitchen had obliterated the fish with a Guinness batter the thickness--and chewability--of shoe leather. Good carrot-and-turnip mash and chips, though.
I wonder how they'd go with Froot Loops?
Fado Irish Pub, 1735 19th Street, 297-0066. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m. daily.