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Bar Tab: Pub 32 Irish Gastropub

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Ross making pickle shot

Pub 32 Irish Gastropub Managing Partner Ross Galbraith makes me a Bushmills Pickle Shot. ALL STAFF PHOTOS / WADE TATANGELO

I start my recent happy hour visit to Pub 32 simple enough with a pint of Guinness ($5). Perfectly poured, it smacks of freshness resulting from carefully cleaned lines. It reminds me how much I enjoy the Irish dry stout; which is a few years older than this country and must laugh at all the baby craft beers here trying to eclipse it. Coupled with Pub 32’s cozy atmosphere – don’t let the strip mall location by Westfield Sarasota Square off S. Tamiami Trail fool you – and the friendly service, I would be content to sit at the bar all afternoon, or, at least until rush-hour traffic dissipates, sipping Guinness and watching the Olympics.

Fish n chips close

The Fish & Chips

Pub 32, though, is not your average, Americanized, Irish Bar. It is an Irish Gastropub. I glance at the menu and am immediately impressed. Tough decision, but I opt for a classic, the $10 plate of Fish & Chips (there’s also a $14 plate for those with bigger appetites). A tender fillet of North Atlantic cod lightly swathed in Pub 32’s Smithwick's beer batter paired with hand-cut, smartly salted chips (most Americans would call them fries), it’s an outstanding execution of an often bland dish.

But it gets better. Do yourself a favor and make sure each bite of fish and chips gets accompanied by the homemade tartar sauce. Frothier than the heavier, creamy consistency one expects from the usual mayonnaise-based sauce, Pub 32’s secret ingredient is a spot-on amount of curry.

Pâté

"Black Bush" Chicken Liver Pâté

Blown away by the Fish & Chips, I’m moving on to a more adventurous dish: "Black Bush” Chicken Liver Pâté ($8). The fatty chicken liver is infused with Bushmills Black Bush Irish Whiskey. Cooked and ground into a pleasurable paste, it's served with homemade pickled onions and soda bread crisps and proves delightfully decadent and extremely filling.

I need some Bushmills to help with my digestion. It’s time for me and my new pal, Pub 32’s managing partner Ross Galbraith, to do a shot. But not just any shot. A Pickle Shot ($5). Ross explains I should slam the Bushmills and then chase it with a separate, smaller portion of pickle juice and then eat the homemade pickle slice. He puts four glasses on the bar and we commence to celebrate. I would have been fine without the pickle back, but, boy, it completely obliterates the whiskey burn with a nicely calculated salty and spiciness that had me craving the entire jar of pickles.

Pickle shots

Pickle Shots

“I don’t even like whiskey,” says Ross’ wife, Louise Galbraith. “But I will have a Pickle Shot.”

Ross and I are talking drinks now. He uses that prized pickle juice for a variation on the dirty martini he calls, of course, a Pickle Martini ($7). I’m about to order one when he convinces me to try a Bushmills Whiskey Smash.

“It’s like an Irish mojito,” he says.

Bushmills Whiskey Smash close CROP

Bushmills Whiskey Smash

I’m game. Ross muddles some mint, adds simple syrup, Bushmills Irish Honey, a splash of soda, shakes and pours into a short-stemmed glass with a wide bottom and garnishes with a lemon wedge. It has all the breezy qualities of a traditional mojito but with more of a welcoming whiskey bite. I sip slowly with appreciation and care and return to the starters section of the dinner menu.

Highly recommended by the Galbraiths, I select the Pan Seared Scallops ($10). Three plump mollusks, each served with pork belly confit and corn puree fit to be consumed alone with a spoon, it’s an excellent marriage of surf and turf. Sweet and salty, a touch of crispiness and then melt-in-your-mouth soft, it’s a deftly constructed balancing act of flavors and textures.

Pan Seared Scallops close 1

Pan Seared Scallops

It has been a great afternoon. Actually, by now it’s early evening. It’s time to make the hour drive back to our home in West Bradenton. I call my amazing wife Kristin to see if she’s eaten. I know she loves chicken pot pie as much as I do. I mention it is “organic chicken with garden vegetables in a suprême sauce in a puffed pastry on champ (creamy mashed potatoes with chopped scallions).” She’s sold as soon as I mention “organic chicken.” I take the chicken pot pie ($14) home and despite the rather long trek, it’s warm and wonderful and full of large, luscious, nicely seasoned chunks of chicken.

“So when are you taking me to this place?” Kristin asks in between bites.

We will be returning to Pub 32.

Pub 32 Irish Gastropub
8383 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 952-3070; irishpub32.com

Have a suggestion for a place to be featured in Bar Tab? Comment below, email to wade.tatangelo@heraldtribune.com or contact me on Twitter:@wtatangelo.

Pub 32 Irish Gastropub
8383 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 952-3070; irishpub32.com

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo created what would eventually be called Bar Tab while working as a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune in 2003. He would continue writing about bars for Maxim, Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, OC (Calif.) Weekly and The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune as a staff writer in 2013 and has happily returned to writing our weekly column Bar Tab. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: February 26, 2014
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