Unorthodox Irish Pub Fare Makes Devout Fans
When one considers seafood in an Irish pub, a proper piece of flaky, battered cod the size of a baby’s arm and a mound of “chips” (French fries to us Yanks) is usually what springs to mind. At Culhane’s Irish Pub in Atlantic Beach, they are putting a new spin on traditional Irish fare with elements sourced right at home.
Mary Jane Culhane – one of the four Culhane sisters at the helm of the popular establishment tucked neatly between a credit union and a pet supermarket in a commercial strip center – says the family-run restaurant is turning the tides on traditional pub food. And as a local beaches favorite, many of the favorite menu items feature locally sourced seafood on both the brunch and dinner menus.
“Our scratch kitchen cooks with local ingredients, and everything from our kitchen is prepared fresh and made in house. [We have] partner[ed] with amazing local food vendors since 2005,” says Culhane, of Cinotti’s Bakery, Mayport C&C, Sysco Foods, Urban Farms Hydro, Azar Sausage and Thumann’s Meat.
Dishes like Smoked Salmon Benny and Chad’s Shrimp & Grits are available on the brunch menu, while the dinner menu features Atlantic Beach Fish Wrap, Haddock Chipper, Whiskey Salmon, Kyle’s Fish n’ Chips, Connemara Salmon Dip, Kaye’s Pasta Mac with Shrimp, Sisters Salads with a choice of blackened or grilled shrimp, salmon or haddock, Fresh Catch Friday and the famous Dingle Fish Pie.
“Dingle is a famous fishing village in the west coast of Ireland, hence the name,” says Culhane.” “Dingle Fish Pie is one of our top sellers after Fish & Chips. Everything is made from scratch. Fresh cod, salmon, shrimp, potatoes and peas in Parmesan cream sauce and encrusted with Irish cheddar cheese and served with toast points.”
Culhane’s modern spin on “Comfort Food with An Attitude” earned a spot on the National and International Food Network, Triple D with Guy Fieri. A poster of Fieri hangs as a badge of honor on the kitchen door, marking his February 2010 visit during which he sampled the Dingle Pie created by Michelle Culhane and a family favorite.
“She created the Famous Sisters Dressing (Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese, Squeezed Lemon, Extra Virgin Oil and Garlic) and The Dingle Fish Pie from scratch,” gushes Culhane about her sister’s culinary expertise. The most common misconception about Irish fare is that the food is boring, heavy and lacking flavor. Several of the dishes are new translations of family recipes, but with an executive chef’s flare for adding beer, wine and whisky. Culhane’s uses a secret beer-batter recipe made from scratch to prepare cod and haddock. Whiskey is also a favorite ingredient to prepare the whiskey glaze salmon, blackened grilled shrimp and house-smoked salmon.
Culhane’s is finalizing plans to open a second location on the Southside near Tinseltown in early October. A new lunch and catering menu will be available to serve the nearly 25,000 business employees within a five-mile radius. The new site will open at 7:30am for all English Premier League and Rugby games and is the only Irish Pub offering a killer weekend brunch with a Stoli Bloody Mary Bar.