Sunday, January 25, 2009

To Explore New Cuisines

When I'm out with a group of fun and funny people, in the midst of a spirited conversation, I often wish I had a notebook in front of me - as opposed to a Young's double chocolate stout, which tastes better, but has sort of the opposite effect. There was a major disagreement on the merits of Kirk vs. Picard, I'm sorry to say. I'm not quite sure who won.

Last night Kevin and I met up with a handful of the band's other friends to see Gilmer and Moore play at Fiddler's Hearth, a new Irish restaurant in the former Bennigan's on Barton Springs. Fiddler's Hearth is a chain too, but it's pretty cool, and I hope it hasn't doomed itself by moving into the space that was originally the very first Night Hawk. Some locations are just cursed, and that's all there is to it.

We used to eat lunch at Bennigan's every once in a while, though it was never a favorite - it was just within easy walking distance of the office. That's a chain whose star had set by the end of the 80's, same way Steak and Ale should have closed its doors for good on December 31, 1979, instead of decades later.

Fiddler's Hearth hasn't changed up the space much, except that the bar no longer reigns supreme from its raised dais in the center of the restaurant, but is instead huddled back in an out-of-the-way corner. The center area has some tables and chairs and a small stage, all of which look as if they might rather be somewhere else. The "Bennigan's" inlaid in mosaic tile at the entrance has a rug thrown over it. The place doesn't look finished.

The food is an improvement, both tasty and educational, and sent me to Wikipedia this morning to learn more about such goodies as shepherd's pie, boxty, and colcannon - and the source of my man problems as well, apparently. My dinner was a boxty, a large potato pancake folded omelet-like over a filling of steak strips and sauteed onions and peppers. I think the boxty would be more authentically, if less appetizingly, served by itself, because if you can afford meat, you don't go around inventing potato pancakes, do you? Still, it was very good, and I'm really wanting to go back again sometime soon for the weekend brunch buffet. How often do you eat a savory mash of cabbage, onions and potatoes with bits of bacon mixed in to start your day? Not that often, I bet. But frankly, I'm kind of tired of breakfast tacos.

Colcannon is traditionally served at Halloween with prizes hidden in it, and if you get the ring in your portion, you'll be married within the year; if you get the coin, you'll make money, and so on. That assumes you don't choke to death on the favor, which is generally regarded as bad luck and very rude to your host besides.

Fortunately we all survived last night's dinner and had a wonderful time too, because the music was great as always and the conversation was hilarious. I wish I could remember more of it.

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At January 26, 2009 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acually the Night Hawk restaurant was down from Bennigans. Bennigans is at the corner of Barton Springs and Riverside. I think the building is title company last time I looked.....


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