O'Brothers Irish Pub lacks luck and charm

Spinnaker

St. Patrick’s Day hoots for jugs of beer, tacky green-bead necklaces and the occasional Irish kiss — if you’re lucky. For the social scene, you may want to hit a nearby pub like O’Brother’s Irish Pub in Five Points — and even dare to eat there if you’re drunk enough not to care.

Editor in chief Josh Gore and I headed up during lunchtime, hoping for traditional Irish food and service. Drew Cavins and his brother, Curt, opened O’Brothers Irish Pub Dec. 18, 2008 and introduced a lunch menu in 2009 — and it’s rather a disappointment.

The place, speckled with minimal customers in the outside seating, fashioned a two-story cabin build. We were asked to seat ourselves, and we ventured around the restaurant. The ground floor held a small bar and a dim dining room in the back. The upstairs first floor let in more sun and held two four-seat tables with a shuffleboard game table to the side. The section, however, was blocked off for lunch because only two servers ran the lunch hour and found it inconvenient to serve upstairs. Like the other customers, we chose the outside seating.

I enjoyed sitting by the street in Riverside, soaking in the sun — maybe for too long. It was half an hour before my first appetizer arrived: a plate of fried pickles with ranch dip. This was the first time I tried fried pickles, and I found the breading unbearably salty. Gore didn’t seem to eat any more of the appetizer than I did.

Our server, claiming to be new on the job, didn’t know if the restaurant carried a specialty Irish beer or what the weekly special of pastry pie was. Sure, we granted the newbie excuse and waited for answers, only to find the place carried no special Irish brew. Gore settled for a Guinness, and I, the weekly special pie stuffed with boiled cabbage and corn beef.

I must admit, the pie arrived perfectly cooked. I allowed it to seduce my taste buds. The flaky crust paired well with the soft combination of cheese, cabbage and corn beef steaming inside. I ate it slowly, savoring the comfort food and forgiving the fried pickles more and more with every bite. My hopes for the main course hurried back.

Liz Van Hooser, former food writer for the Florida Times-Union, suggested to try the fish ‘n’ chips from the pub in her Food and Dining blog in 2009. We ordered the dish, and our newbie server warned against getting a side of fries because we would get a “mountain” of fries with the dish already. Instead, she suggested we try the “scrumptious” — and her favorite side — green beans.

The $13 fish ‘n’ chips arrived with barely 15 shoestring fries thrown under two strips of cod, which was breaded in the same salty batter as the fried pickles. The fish, though tender, tasted like nothing else but bland fish. Ketchup, ranch, a strong ginger curry sauce and vinegar were offered as condiments but took the dish nowhere. The beans were your average green beans. The magic from the former pie soon wore off.

Gore and I ordered our last entree of lamb kabobs. I personally love lamb; the meat needs as much care as a good piece of steak and offers just as much brilliant flavor. Our kabobs arrived with unseasoned meat, chewy in texture, strung together with plain grilled cherry tomatoes and onions.

Our $40 meal did not match up to price. The place is more ideal for drinks, with a laid-back atmosphere at both the outside and inside bars.

I bet the joint is hopping for dinnertime, and I am willing to give it a second try, even after the disappointing lunch. I look forward to attending its Third Annual St. Patrick’s Day Block Party March 17, featuring live music, dancing on the streets and drink specials. Come join me in giving this place a second chance — the Irish luck may kick in.

For more information, visit obrotherspub.com.