The food and beverage world is undergoing a period of unprecedented change as restaurants and pubs try to cater to new consumer trends. Ireland and Irish Pubs are not immune to those changes. The New York Times just wrote about the exploding cocktail culture in Ireland and how the Irish are trading their Pints for Pisco Sours. The same is happening with food. There are now 16 Irish pubs and restaurants with at least one Michelin star with 3 new ones added this year.
Fadó has always tried to authentically reflect what’s happening on menus in the best pubs in Ireland. While we still love our Fish and Chips and Pub Burgers, many pub menus today are more about local sourcing, clean ingredients and a wave of culinary innovation.
Our Corporate Chef Bryan McAlister sat down to talk with us about how those changes impact Fadó and the new Fadó Spring seasonal menu. Bryan studied culinary in the great food city of Charleston, S.C. and has been the Executive Chef at Fadó since 2015. When he’s not in the kitchen you might find him out on the Intracoastal with a cooler full of fish and PBR, working the Smoker behind the pub or in the garden.
Tell me about the thought process that went into the menu.
We like to change our menu seasonally. Coming into spring, we wanted to lighten some things up and feature ingredients that are in season or reflective of it-like lamb, green beans, snap peas, and asparagus. All featured on our menu this season. Of course, these ingredients are available year round, but this is the season when they are at their peak. The quality of the ingredients drives our menu development. We look at what’s great to work with before we start building dishes or recipes.
I’m a bit of a farmer. I like growing ingredients and cooking from my own garden. That helps me to be aware of what’s coming to market and what might be great to look for. I love fresh veggies and fresh herbs and spring is the perfect time to bring them together.
Sugar snap peas are fantastic this time of year. We love their crunch, their ability to stand up in the sauté pan, and their sweetness. They are a great vegetable to work with because of the pair so well with the other ingredients we’re working with like roasted mushrooms. Beets and leaks are also in season and are great now, so we are serving a beetroot puree with the roasted mushroom, sugar snap peas, and charred leeks. All those flavors, go so well together- so nice and light for this time of year.
They are a delicious accompaniment to our new Chicken Roulade. It’s chicken breast rolled with prosciutto, spinach and herbed goat cheese in a crispy panko crust. Served with our supreme sauce and beetroot puree. It’s a light spring meal with bright seasonal flavors – low on carbs, but big on flavor.
You just mentioned beetroot. When most people think about ‘Irish food’ they aren’t thinking beetroot, right?
You have to remember that Ireland is an island and has a long history of providing for itself. It was a ‘farm to table’ culture not because it was trendy but because it was necessary.
Today the culinary scene in Ireland is tremendous, just look at the number of Michelin stars coming out of there. There is so much great cooking happening in pubs now and I want to share that. For example, one of the most popular proteins in spring in Ireland is lamb. We wanted to feature it in a couple of different dishes. First, we do a meatball using lamb. We use ground lamb meat for a milder flavor. Next, we’re taking chorizo spices and creating a whole new take on traditional meatballs. Sometimes people think when you use chorizo that there must be pork in the dish, but we went 100% lamb. Then to lighten it up we’ve accompanied the dish with cauliflower puree, pickled onions, and sunflower seeds to provide that kind of nuttiness and crunch we like. Finally, the feta cheese brings home a nice saltiness that brightens the rest of the flavors and allows them to play off each other.
We’ve also added a chargrilled rack of lamb with lamb jus and our own dauphinoise potatoes and our seasonal veggies. For this dish, we’ve created a unique chimichurri sauce that replaces the cilantro found in the traditional Argentinian recipe with mint to make the perfect accompaniment for the lamb. It’s pretty cool.
The menu has only been out a few weeks, is there anything that is surprising you so far?
Yes, the Citrus Avocado Bowl. It looks like spring on a plate and is the first time ever that a salad is a top seller on a seasonal menu. It’s a big salad that has lots of colors lots of raw fresh veggies avocados and even strawberries. Strawberries are fantastic right now. We’re really excited to find good sources of them and make them a star element of this dish. We’re going for a fresh hybrid between a salad and a crudités. We’ve got a fantastic homemade green goddess dressing that just brings the whole theme home.
The new spring menu will be available for a limited time. To learn more go to www.FadoIrishPub.com