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At the Table: Power’s Irish Pub has charm, flavorful shepherd’s pie

Sunday, December 18, 2011
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Power’s Irish Pub

WHERE: 130 Meyer Road, Clifton Park. Phone 406-5561. www.powersirishpub.com

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

HOW MUCH: $52.76, with tax and tip and one soda.

MORE INFO: Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express. Children’s menu available. Wheelchair accessible.

— If you’re Irish, you’ll love Power’s Irish Pub, in the historic old farmhouse just off Route 9 that was the Old Dater Tavern and, more recently, the Old Dublin Inn. If you’re not, you’ll still find the restaurant attractive and pleasant.

The 1786 building has been restored from the foundation up, and the result is cheerful, authentic and charming.

Power’s Pub is owned by the Gifford family, whose name might sound familiar — they own Giffy’s Bar-B-Q just down the road.

They just opened a few weeks ago, so the menu is evolving. Appetizers include Irish chips, which are seasoned waffle fries topped with sour cream, salsa verde, corned beef and jalapenos; fried pickles, wings, crab cakes, and Irish sliders. There are a few salads, and I was glad to see potato leek soup has a regular place on the menu.

Under entrees, you’ll find fish and chips, a few sandwiches, burgers, shepherd’s pie and bangers and mash. New items are added as the kitchen gets on its feet.

Serious suds

Power’s is serious about beer. Not only do they have the Guinness line on draft, there are a total of 18 drafts, and the balance are from local breweries. This alone is why you should patronize Power’s. They constantly change their draft beers, so you shouldn’t get bored.

We entered through the back via the large wooden deck, which will be a pleasant spot in the good weather, and into the bar, already bustling early on a weeknight. The friendly young hostess led us to a nearby room, but I suggested we find something quieter. We headed upstairs to a cozy room on the second floor that was just big enough for three tables.

Now, the old building is all hard surfaces and can be a bit noisy. We were glad to get our little quiet spot. The singer’s lovely voice floated up the stairs from the bar, just loud enough to enjoy, not so much as to interfere with conversation.

We liked the lace curtains and the photos of flowers that crowded the walls. Mom and I had plenty of room at a table for four and could see the main hallway and down the stairs to the entrance, so there was plenty to watch.

The server came over right away with menus and a wine list. We ordered a beverage and scanned the menu, which was appended that night with specials on their way to becoming menu items, our server told us.

Wings wanting

We started with a half dozen chicken wings ($5), which should be evaluated in any place that calls itself a pub. We weren’t wild about the thick, opaque wing sauce and even though we were hungry, still left two behind on the plate. They came with a black plastic cup of mediocre blue cheese dressing and a few pieces of celery. But things soon got better.

I enjoyed the shepherd’s pie ($12), a traditional dish originally created as an economical way to use up leftovers from a Sunday roast. It was often made with lamb or mutton; Power’s makes it with ground beef, garlic, onion, parsnip, tomato paste, frozen corn and peas, seasoned with chopped rosemary and parsley. (I found the recipe at WNYT’s website, where you can also watch Chef Janet W. prepare it on Let’s Eat Kitchen.) The excellent mashed potatoes were pleasantly browned and the moist beef mixture below was spicy. “That is tasty,” said Mom.

I only managed to eat about a third of the massive dish, which could easily serve two, and packed up the rest to take home. The leftovers were much improved after a few days in the fridge; then the shepherd’s pie was out of this world. Don’t worry if you don’t finish it; you’ll have a real treat for another meal.

Mom had the chicken Caesar salad ($12), a special of the night that has made its way to the regular menu. The large boneless breast of grilled chicken is sliced and served over a puffy bed of fresh green Romaine. The chicken was seasoned and tender, nice and soft. We both liked the big seasoned croutons. I saw lots of shredded cheese sprinkled over the salad. Mom said the dressing could have used more flavor, though. Still, it’s a generous and fresh salad for the price.

Homemade desserts

Dessert turned out to be the best part of the meal. Now, some of the Power’s Pub desserts come from the very respectable J & S Watkins of Clifton Park, but you should skip those and head for the homemade desserts, which were wonderful. Mom had the bread pudding ($5), which was puffy and lovely and delicious. “That is tasty,” she said, approvingly. “It’s so light.” Bread pudding has fallen out of fashion, and should be on more menus and taste just like this.

The apple cobbler ($5) was a bowl of sliced green apples cooked just until soft but not mushy, and topped with lots of sweetened crumbs. “Sometimes the crumbs are so hard,” said Mom, who is not a cobbler fan. But she was won over by these, which were tender and tasty. The focus was on the fruit, although the sweet crumbs were a pleasant diversion. The only thing that could have improved these desserts was a little vanilla ice cream or some creme anglaise. So don’t skip dessert — the kitchen really shines here.

Power’s Pub joins a few other locally owned restaurants in Clifton Park whose food is much better than at those chain places that are everywhere. Prices are reasonable here — maybe better, and the place is charming. And if you’re Irish, well, then Power’s is the place for you.

 
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