Irish stew, green beer and shamrocks. St. Patrick’s Day can’t be further from the preaching of Saint Patrick himself, but boy, what a great party it’s become! Today it’s all about celebrating Irish culture and Irish traditions, and you don’t have to be Irish to join in.
“Most of the pubs (in Halton) that are popular destinations for St. Patrick’s Day are actually British,” laughs Stan Mischaud, proprietor of The Dickens, a great British Pub in Burlington. “Everyone’s Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.” There will be more lamb shanks, lamb stew (Irish stew) and corn beef and cabbage washed down with pints of Murphy’s Irish Stout than at any other time of the year.
Of course, the quintessential St. Patrick’s Day party would be in Dublin with a giant parade, a humungous festival, and dozens of pub-crawls. Here in Halton, located perfectly in the Burlington downtown core, is The Poacher. “We’re beautifully situated for a pub crawl,” says manager, Colleen Stevenson, “and we’re an absolutely beautiful pub,” she boasts. The Poacher’s decor of rich mahogany lends an authentic, pampered feel. At The Poacher on St. Patrick’s Day, green beer and Guinness dry stout flows all day and Irish dancers do their best jigs. Irish music will be playing in the background while you’re chowing down on a steamy plate of Guinness stew.
Let’s not forget to enjoy some hearty dishes to absorb all that beer and whiskey. At The Queens Head in Burlington, their regular pub menu is reduced to a few dishes on St.Patrick’s Day, and in their place are traditional Irish (and British) dishes like Irish stew, Guinness stew, Irish soda bread, lamb burgers and Cornish pasties. “Because we’re so busy we go with a reduced menu, keeping the activities to a minimum and the energy high,” says Meridith Domsberger. Oh yes, and there will be lots of green beer too, to be sure.
Drinking green beer is an American contribution to the Irish festivities. “It’s really easy to do with a little green food colouring,” says manager Joanne Ardill of The Niblick in Oakville. Keen patrons start to line up early in the morning. “It’s so busy here on St. Patrick’s Day that we do as little as possible and still offer a great party,” says Joanne. Like the others, The Niblick’s kitchen will be brewing up Irish stew, corn-beef and cabbage, and a pot of Cock-a-Leekie Soup (chicken and leeks). The staff will be decked out in green and Celtic music will play throughout the bar. Will they be serving green beer? “Only if someone asks for it,” says Joanne, but the Guinness will be flowing and they estimate they’ll sell more Guinness beer on St. Patrick’s Day than they would normally in an entire week.
It is said that on March 17 there will be over 16 million pints of Guinness consumed, two-thirds more than any other day – not all within Halton – but from green beer to Guinness Dry Stout and Jameson’s Irish Whisky, there are some great pubs nearby to enjoy the life, and the luck of the Irish.
St. Patrick’s Day Parties
Queens Head Pub
400 Brant Street, Burlington
The Queen’s Head British Pub
118 Dunn Street, Oakville
423 Elizabeth Street, Burlington
436 Pearl Street, Burlington
The Niblick Pub
1011 Upper Middle Road East, Oakville
O’Finn’s Irish Temper Pub
136 Church Street, Oakville
Beaver & Bulldog Pub
2020 Lakeshore Road, Burlington
Ye Olde Squire Pub
3537 Fairview Street, Burlington
Article written by by Lynn Ogryzlo