Paying Tribute to Irish Pubs and Restaurants

Author: Clifton Rice

Keys to the Best Fish and Chips You’ve Ever Had

We are pub devotees. There’s nothing we love more than a cold, crisp beer poured from a tap and the stale din of a pub in the early afternoon. But, more than anything, we love a good plate of fish and chips. This dish is ubiquitous in pubs all over the world, and we’ve tried our fair share of plates. In tasting hundreds of fish and chips variations over the years, we think we’ve figured out the key to the best fish fry. We tested this ourselves and can confirm – it’s dang good.

We’re posting these tips for no particular reason. Maybe you’ll make your own fish and chips at home. Perhaps you’ll use this to judge the next time you order at your local pub. Whatever the case, we hope you enjoy.

The best fish and chips starts, of course, with great fish. When we tried to make our own, we ordered a bunch of wild caught seafood from our friends in Washington. Starting with a high-quality fish makes all the difference. The tender, subtle flavor of the fish contrasts with the pillowy but crispy fried batter. We tried out a few fish options – wild salmon, pacific cod, halibut, and albacore tuna. As long as it’s high-quality and wild-caught, you can’t go wrong.

Next comes the batter. Some people say the batter coating should be light and thin, shattering into pieces when you bite into the fish. Others think the coating should be puffy and thick, with just a bit of chewiness. We find ourselves falling on the thick and puffy end of the spectrum. This guide from The Guardian was helpful in our home batter testing.

If you’re making fish and chips at home, you can achieve the best texture by ensuring you use icy cold beer. You should also add a healthy dose of baking powder just before dunking the fish. Then, you’ll need to use the batter immediately after making it. This allows the mixture to retain a bit of carbonation, allowing the fry to fluff up while staying crispy. Additionally, before dunking the fish, be sure to chill the flour prior to coating the strips. This will result in a lighter texture.

Finally, the oil temperature. The oil needs to be hot enough to cook the fish but not so hot that it burns the batter. We’ve found that the temperature should be between 350’F and 375’F. Of course, if you’re eating at your favorite pub, you’re not going to ask the waiter about oil temperature. Instead, we recommend listening for the fry. If you walk by the kitchen and can hear the hot oil, it’s at the right temperature.

That’s it, friends. The keys to the best fish and chips: high-quality fish, fresh and cold batter, and appropriately hot oil. We don’t recommend sending notes to the line cook at your favorite pub, but if you fancy yourself a chippy afficionado, give this a try in your kitchen at home.

Fort Collins’ Mulligan’s makes way for a new Irish pub

If walls could talk, it is hard to imagine that the ones at one former Fort Collins, CO Irish pub could say anything that did not become public knowledge over the years.

Mulligan’s Pub & Sports Club closed its doors in January 2019. The pub did not close quietly, though. Posted on its Facebook page, the South College Avenue pub expressed the hope that someone might one day put into the pub the money and energy that it “needs and deserves.”

Numerous past and present patrons took to the comment section on Facebook to bid a farewell to the pub. Many also recalled fond memories from their nights spent there. One former patron reminisced about how the pub opened their doors “as a space for Irish music and dance.”

Other commenters recalled the fun atmosphere and how the pub was a great place to spend time with friends.

“That place was always a place of comfort for us regulars,” wrote one such Facebook user. “It’ll always have a special place in my heart cause [sic] I’ve met many of my life long friends there.”

Mulligan’s Pub opened in 1990 and, in recent years, it became a haven for area Green Bay Packers fans. Before that, the pub experienced multiple periods of transition. The local hub closed for a brief time in June 2005. It later reopened that same year in December under new management.

Another period of transition included when the pub was temporarily seized in 2013 by the government. At the time, the restaurant and bar owned the state more than $57,000. The restaurant and bar’s owed fees were in back sales taxes and wage withholdings.

Still, the news of the closing came as a shock for many who frequented it. Today, in its place, is a new hangout, The Irish Pub. The new pub boasts its elevated cocktails, offers entertainment and poker nights, and strives to provide patrons with a “classic neighborhood Irish Social House feel.”

The new pub was slated to open on March 13.

Nashville says goodbye to Mulligan’s Pub

Nashville, TN may have lost a local watering hole on Second Avenue in 2010, but the memories of Mulligan’s Pub and Restaurant are immortalized online.

The Irish Pub was, at the time, located across from the Wildhorse Saloon. A popular spot for tourists and locals, the news of its closing was met with an outpouring of responses.

“VERY SAD [sic] to see this has closed,” wrote Zee M., of Huntsville, AL, on Yelp in 2011. “I loved it here and, after having tried their colcannon, learned how to make my own.”

The user went on to say that they were prone to visiting whenever “we could brave the Second Avenue crowds.”

The pub announced its closing in a post on their website in early December 2010. The note thanked patrons for the pub’s 20 “wonderful years” and for their “support and love.”

The post also expressed the hope that it became a part of its patrons’ lives.

Although the news came as a shock to some, one man knew it was time. Tony Lyons was the operator of the restaurant for nearly 23 years. Now almost 10 years ago, Lyons was ready to retire. The operator’s goal was to sell Mulligan’s to another restaurant operator, with the hope being that another Irish Pub would open in its place.

Former patrons described the pub as the sort of place it was impossible not to enjoy oneself. The bar and music were downstairs, which according to one patron also included a band who played traditional Irish drinking songs. The same patron, David S., of Nashville, TN, posted on Yelp in 2008 that there were parts of songs that the band would teach patrons.

David S. added that despite downtown tourists and his propensity of avoiding the area, he did not mind braving the crowds to go there for a “Whiskey in the Jar.”

“This is a great Irish pub and quite a welcome change of pace from most of the scene on Second Ave.,” he wrote.

That “scene” changed over the years, Lyons said. The biggest change? They could once play frisbee in the street at 2 a.m.

A Personal History of Mulligan’s Memories

Earlier this year, Landon, Chloe, Juniper, and myself (Kyle) went out to a double date in one of those rare and random attempts to make friends that you’re afraid is most likely to end up as a boring night of trying to force a human connection where one simply doesn’t exist. We met at the French Market Creperie in Knoxville—a semi-famous local place for sweet, savory, and breakfast crepes in downtown Knoxville. For the first 15 minutes, we were mostly feeling each other out, small talk, what do you do for a living, stuff like that.

Then, Landon made a comment about how crepes sound like craps, unless you say it with a really high voice like you have a stick up your butt and then, well, you get the idea. “I always love having a good crepe when I sit down,” he said. “Is it highfalutin or high flatulent?” I asked in turn. “Give me some Irish culture, good down-to-earth folk.” Our wives went from pleasantly surprised that we were hitting it off to mildly annoyed that we were being immature about pronunciations and French cuisine. Which was all in good fun. And not at all true. I eventually admitted that the crepe was delicious as well as their special LavAzza coffee. Possibly, Juniper and Chloe would have gotten more than mildly annoyed had they not banded together and found in each other a receptive audience for their chronic complaint about us.

But this was also how we discovered that both Landon and myself had, at different points in our lives, a favorite Irish pub named Mulligans. By itself, this isn’t that much of a coincidence since Mulligans isn’t exactly a rare Irish name, but each of these pubs had also closed down. These were two very different Irish pubs in two different cities halfway across the country.

Landon’s favorite Mulligan’s was in Nashville and was, arguably, much more in line with the traditional Irish pub as well as the town’s local culture. Something of an anomaly in a downtown that’s too often overrun with tourists and more trouble than it’s worth, Mulligan’s was the place. You could sing along with Irish drinking songs and find a mix of locals and out-of-towners.  

My own Mulligan’s was in Fort Collins, which closed down just earlier this year. In truth, I had left Colorado several years earlier, but was there when it temporarily closed in 2013 due to mismanagement and tax liabilities. Yes, it had a great selection of beers and a full bar. Yes, it had a traditional Irish pub menu, but my Mulligan’s was also, and some would say first and foremost, a sports bar. One year, my friends and I rented out the back room for a Super Bowl party.

Both restaurants had traditional Irish fare that included bangers and mash, vittles, fish n chips, and plenty and plenty of beer. Not to mention Irish car bombs. So, anyway, we got to talking and reminiscing and mourning the loss of “Mulligan’s” while also being appreciative of the fact that the Irish pub culture and even the name Mulligan’s is still very much alive and well.

Thus, when we saw this domain name from the old site become available, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to launch a fan appreciation site for everything we love (and loved) most about Mulligan’s Pub and Restaurants. We also wanted to pay homage to our own Mulligan’s Memories. Our biggest obstacle right now is that we seemed to have missed the food-photo-insta-posting culture and so don’t have really any good pictures to post. Stay tuned.

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