Authentic Irish food and drink right here in Chicago

March 12, 2010 (CHICAGO)

By now, you should know that corned beef and cabbage isn't purely Irish. And yet dozens of so-called Irish pubs carry it this time of year. I was looking for something that would remind a Dubliner of back home. So as we continue our monthly feature - my country, my cuisine - I'm joining the principal of my kid's school, who really knows an authentic Irish experience when she sees it.

Audrey Perrott is from Dublin. She goes back to see friends and family a few times each year.

"When I go home and I visit, this is what it's like," she said.

Surprisingly, it's like The Gage, located directly across the street from Millennium Park.

"What I love about The Gage is it's got the traditional Irish food but with a twist of the contemporary as well," Perrot said.

Perrott says all good meals begin with a properly poured Guinness.

Dolinsky: "Ok, I know Audrey the most important thing is pouring a proper Guinness.
Perrot: Absolutely.
Dolinsky: So, what do you like about the Guinness here?
Perrot: Oh, what I love about the Guinness is you'll see that it's not flat, there's a head on it. And that's very important because it hasn't been standing. And it is also settled and it has the most perfect flavor."

"Guinness has to be poured right, or it doesn't taste good," she said.

Perrott says she's also impressed with their Irish breakfast.

Perrot: "Breakfast is always a celebration when lots of people are together. Everybody always has Irish breakfast, no matter where it is.
Dolinsky: And what is a proper Irish breakfast?
Perrot: Here we have rashers.
Dolinsky: Which is what?
Perrot: Which is bacon and sausages, which we call 'bangers.' And then we've got some pudding. And the pudding is blood pudding."

Irish soda bread is thick and course, ideal for a shmear of butter. Even potatoes are done right.

"Potatoes go with every Irish meal. There's never, it's a sin if you don't have potatoes. Potatoes with brie cheese, that's the contemporary part of the food here," Perrot said.

More traditional potatoes - I mean 'chips' - arrive with lightly-breaded cod fillets.

"What I love about the fish and chips, it's fresh fish served in newspaper, which is traditional," said Perrot.

The Irish also love a good stew; The Gage's lamb vindaloo is a mildly spicy winner for Perrott.

"Lamb stew is very popular in Ireland. Years and years ago it used to be mutton and they used to stew it because it was tough meat."

Dolinsky: "Alright, well we should do a toast for St. Patrick's Day.
Perrot: Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Dolinsky: I believe the correct pronunciation is slainte.
Perrot: Slainte, very good."

The Gage has much more than just those Irish dishes we talked about. The menu and wine list are pretty ambitious. One other place I'll recommend for a fun Irish night out: Chief O'Neill's, along North Elston, where they'll have live music all weekend.

The Gage
24 S. Michigan Ave.

Also mentioned:
Chief O'Neill's
3471 N. Elston

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