Irish cuisine is an oxymoron. Irish whiskey, yes. Wild, redheaded Irish girls, sure. Irish sectarian strife, of course. The various squabbling tribes of the entire British Isles aren’t famous for their contributions to the culinary arts, unless someone’s lecturing on what not to do in the kitchen—haggis, kidney pie or blood pudding. No, one shouldn’t expect too much from the kitchens of people known worldwide for boiling the flavor out of everything and making food out of parts that only hyenas might touch.
Unless that kitchen is at Liam’s Irish Pub in Colton—a pleasant, if not completely unhealthy, surprise. Many people come to this green, shamrock-and-Gaelic-décor-festooned hole-in-the-wall for its live entertainment, 33 beers on tap and wide range of rare, imported whiskies, and get acquainted with their smaller, late-night menu. Their Irish-themed twists on the usual burgers, sandwiches and baskets of deep-fried fare are light years ahead of other bar-and-grills’ common midnight grub, and would be worthy enough for a review all on its own. Four items of note off this menu are the fish and chips, made with large fillets of cod and thick cuts of deep-fried, chip-sliced potatoes; the Pub Club, a massive, grilled multi-stacker in which corn beef can be substituted if your religion keeps you away from devil pig meat; Irish Nachos, a large portion of potato chips covered in sour cream and chipped corn beef; and Leprechaun Nuts—jalapenos stuffed with white cheese, wrapped in corn beef, battered and deep-fried. Be sure to bring your nitro pills before digging in.
For healthy alternatives (healthy being a relative term), one has to patronize Liam’s during “normal people” hours—and surprisingly, many folks do come here just for the food, clearing out before the freaks arrive at 9 p.m. As can be expected, the full menu has the bar-menu-of-death items, along with other Irish variations on beef, lamb and chicken; there are also the classic Irish dishes such as Sheppard’s pie and corned beef and cabbage.
And that brings me to:
Corned beef, corned beef, corned beef. Does everything at this restaurant have corned beef? For the most part, yeah. It’s an Irish pub, and like the people of Eire, their meat of choice is pickled. But Liam’s only uses the flat cut in all of their dishes, which is preferred by many connoisseurs of this oft-maligned meaty product—the center cut, while good for making sandwiches, is too lean for other dishes that require more fat; the end cut is so striated with sinews that it’s only good for making soup. But the flat cut is the perfect mixture of the two. Whether it’s boiled in the soup, sliced for the sandwiches, or cubed and piled high on their nachos, it adds a toothsome consistency to all salt-cured cow-dishes.
Just remember, if someone in your party should start babbling on about their health (at an Irish pub, of all things!), Liam’s does have a couple of salads that are doable, and their rosemary chicken (steeped in wine and fried up) almost fits the bill. The pan juices are turned into gravy, poured over the breast, which is a moist, herb-rich change of pace, compared to the rest of their punch-in-the-mouth menu. While they could have made it healthier by flame-cooking it on a grill, that sucks out the moisture and leaves no drippings. I mean, what part of Irish Pub don’t you get?
LIAM’S IRISH PUB, 1087 S. MOUNT VERNON AVE.,
COLTON, (909) 422-9900. DINNER FOR TWO VARIES, BUT WON’T BE OVER $50.