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Claddagh Irish Pub

In a word: A bit like IreLand, the Theme Park.

The specs: #0087
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at BeerAdvocate, Madison Fish Fry, collected at del.icio.us; official web site; Claddagh Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

JM ate the pub cheesesteak with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the BLT with chips.
Tiffany ate the chicken spinach melt with a Blue Moon.
We split a white chocolate creme brulee.
The bill was $38, or $12.67/person, plus tip.
Tiffany and JM gave Claddagh a B+; Nichole gave Claddagh a B- (see our grading rubric).

Latest Claddagh news and reviews

Claddagh gives it a good try, but it's hard to convey the feel of the Emerald Isle from the middle of a parking lot in the shadow of a hulking Prairie-Style office building.

Claddagh exterior

However, you can still see a grain elevator on the horizon, and if the wind's right catch a whiff of dairy air.

Edge of the farmland

The parking lot itself was, as always at Greenway Crossing, chock full of shiny, late-model cars. The bar was chock-full of their shiny, happy owners, nattily dressed and looking for craic.

Full parking lot

The corporate story of Claddagh, a chain with a dozen or so U.S. locations, lays on the authenticity talk pretty thick. Some things, like the church confessional partition between us and the neighboring table, and the other antiques and decor, were believable.

What isn't quite as Irish is the daunting size of the entrees*. At Claddagh's prices, it's good to have leftovers; but Nichole's BLT came with what seemed to be a pound each of chips and rashers (way more than the British Nutrition Foundation recommends). The malt vinegar made eating half the chips worth it. The chips were crispy outside and velvety inside, and soaked up the vinegar like nobody's business.

The chicken spinach melt was "excellent, as always!" Our earnest, chatty server implied that it was a popular dish. JM's cheesesteak was much more reasonably sized but didn't really stand out.  The white chocolate creme brulee was the biggest we'd ever seen.

Creme brulee before

We finished it anyway. It was voted melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious (though Nichole wished for a better crust).

Creme brulee after

To top off the meal, an official-looking fellow dropped by to ask if everything was all right. This was an excellent touch of hospitality.

*If all Irish entrees were this size, the island would have sunk long ago.

Comments

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I agree with everything you said about the atmosphere, it is hard to feel Ireland when you are next to Cheeseburger in Paradise. But I do have to say they have some of the best fish I have ever had. That is saying a lot being from Wisconsin, Friday night Fish Fry Capital of the world!

It's no Brocach, let me tell you. After you've been to both, only one is worth your time. I will chime in with the previous commenter, though. The fish fry is stupefyingly huge. Not great, maybe, but certainly imposing.

Just had lunch there today ... let me tell you, it gets an A for food with the meatloaf melt! Good Lord, that's a sandwich! The fries were exactly as you described, and yes, the malt vinegar is a heavenly condiment.

D- for speed of service, though. There appeared to be but one waitress who had only three tables when we got there, but almost a dozen as we were leaving. She was definitely overworked.

My wife and I made a rainy day visit to Claddagh last night in search of good Irish comfort food after a rough week. Overall we were very happy with our trip but we left with lingering regrets of what "could have been". Claddagh is very much a "Theme restaurant". The trappings of big box chain restaurants linger at the edge of view and remind you that you are a customer, not a friend. I'm a harsh critic, as my wife pointed out. I skew heavily towards homey, personable restaurants and eschew mall-ringers like Applebee's, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and the like for their homogeneous inoffensive, challenge free menus and their practiced, polished "37 pieces of flair" servers. That said, we were ushered into the dining room with all speed and seated in the to-good-to-be-true-on-a-rainy-crappy-night fireplace table for our dinner by a sweet and attentive server. A very fine glass of Jameson 12 year whiskey put me in a much more forgiving mood. The "chips" (potato wedges) were indeed awesome. I'm impressed with any restaurant that does it's fries in the Pomme Frites style (it's a double fry trick that leaves the outside crispy but the inside smooth and perfectly cooked - THE trick for perfect fries). The slathering of what was apparently canned nacho cheese sauce was probably an insult to such mighty tubers but they were very, very comforting. My wife, a soup nazi of the highest caliber pronounced the Guinness onion soup transcendent, but I was unimpressed with the clam chowder that could have used a healthy shot of cream. Our main course consisted of Bangers and Mash for the wife and the Fish and Chips for me. The wife proclaimed the sauce a meatly, savory triumph but the sausage had a disappointing breakfast brat flavor that, while good, was not really that exciting. My Fish and Chips, consisting of more wonderful fries and a GIGANTIC hunk of cod (the King of Fish) that was perfectly prepared. In the end, we had a wonderful meal in a Irishesque surrounding. We recommend... go for good Irish food, not for good Irish feelings.

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