Paint the town green with a night out or a quiet lunch at the emblematic chain of pubs that dot the country’s culinary landscape. The Irish House is our slice of Ireland to savour

Seven cities, 16 locations and counting, with a target set at 20 outlets by the end of the year, The Irish House is getting bigger and better. Your go-to for a familiar night out that offers the perfect mix of taste, music and comfort. Ireland is as close to home as it can get with this traditional gastropub that introduced itself at Phoenix Mall, Lower Parel in 2011 and then Kala Ghoda, SoBo a short while after. For us, it’s the weekend fix, with a buzz you really can’t replicate elsewhere and moments you seem to want to recreate as often as you can, sipping on a Hoegaarden straight from the tap, munching on a cheese-laden nacho, grooving to the DJ’s beats and testing your AQ (alcohol quotient) by reading out loud any one of the Irish quotes on the wall, blurrier with every passing sip… ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of the beer holder’, one of our favourites!

Karaoke nights, live music by contemporary artists, DJ nights, game nights, happy hours every evening, the wooden interiors that keep you cosy with community tables and high chairs, intimate seating options, a large bar and outdoor space, too, a taste of Ireland with over 50 international, domestic and craft beers, a giant serving of Dublin’s streets in St. Patrick’s Day festivities that will make you want to go green in a flash (a serving of Germany, too, with Oktoberfest celebrations) and that big screen to swear at and cheer with your cronies during the World Cup or any regular sporting event… the folks behind the pub chain have their formula right. That’s K Hospitality, the culinary conglomerate that has dished out taste-worthy spaces to take note of, from Copper Chimney to Serafina and Bombay Brasserie, Blue Sea Banquets, Grand Cuisine and Sunville Banquets to the largest food and beverage operators, Travel Food Services (TFS) in the travel retail segment, inclusive of in-flight catering. The sky’s the limit for the Kapurs, Sunil (Joy) Kapur and his successors, Varun and Karan, the latter the young gun behind Irish.

Today, we sit at a laid-back table at The Irish House, Kala Ghoda – closest in proximity and, regardless, one of the best yet – with one dish after another, of European and American fare to delight us. From Armagh Mushroom Bites – toasted mini brioche buns filled with chopped mushroom in a creamy sauce topped with chives, Cajun Sweet Potato Fries, dusted with Cajun spice and served with three dips – BBQ, ranch and paprika – Crunchy Mini Tacos of baked pinto beans, fresh tomato salsa, peppers and lettuce with Cheddar and sour cream, a Vegetarian Hummus Platter – the spinach pita a must-try with the classic and paprika hummus, spinach yogurt dip, falafel, lavash and a Mediterranean salad; a signature for the herbivores here. As is the Grande Nachos, perfect for the large group of tipplers, which the non vegetarians among us relished in chicken, served with black beans, jalapeno and peppers, topped with sourcream, salsa and guacamole. Try the Trio of Shots for an unusual flavour rendered by the spicy jalapenos, spinach fritters and garlic potato pops, all deep-fried and served with sweet chilli dip, or the Beetroot and Goat Cheese Sliders that are mini black buns with gherkins and blue potato chips. The Baked Anglo Irish Fritters piqued interest and we were glad it did, for the baked basa fish cakes on polenta crackers with green peppercorn, a mango dip and carrot salad were delightful. Undoubtedly, the Great Irish Fish & Chips had to make its way next, served here with a coleslaw, home-made tartare and an apple cider vinegar on the side, exclusively for us.

“It’s normally not served as most patrons are unaware of how the F&C is to be eaten with the vinegar and mistakenly imbibe the entire serving in one gulp,” informs Chef Rahul Kulkarni, Executive Chef, The Irish House. Well, it certainly enhances the dish, we say, as do the jalapenos on the Good Ol’ Mac N Cheese of Cheddar with house fries. You can add chicken sausages, too. There’s a whole lot you can do with fries here, from the Angry Bird – spicy chicken, hot sauce, cheese topped with a sunny-side up to the Tipsy Paprika, with vodka and bell peppers, the latter an acquired taste. What would top our meal would be the Portofino Grilled Fish, oh yes, of grilled hot spicy fish in Portofino sauce, creamy potato mash and string beans.

You can go on, but space for dessert is a must for the sweet-toothers. When you have the Nutty Caramel Pie, a pretty peanut butter and gooey caramel pie layered with rich chocolate ganache served with hot caramel sauce, you indulge, and then some more. The Irish Riverdance, a signature that’s quite a mission after a heady night at Irish House comes second, yet is a must for the sheer customary experience. Dig deep, your spoon, into the beer mug loaded with brownie crumble, gooey brownie, dark chocolate bites, chocolate crumble and cookies, vanilla ice-cream topped with warm caramel sauce, caramel nuts and, wait for it, lager beer. A community treat at its best, but beware of the lethal alcohol-dessert combo at all times!

Speaking of Community Eats, apart from the hummus platter, the Headless Chicken serve is another signature – traditional Belfast wings, chicken tenders, chicken popcorn served with garlic and chilli mayo and tomato chipotle. Let us not take focus away from the ales and the spirits that make up the Irish way.

Community Cocktails are an adventure, with the Irish Terminator ruling the roost. A punch that can knock you out, you have vodka, gin, rum, triple sec, beer, grape juice and grenadine all in one for everyone. The LIIT Pitcher is another crowd-pleaser while the Irish Tea Party of vodka, rum, gin, triple sec, Jameson and mint tea is certainly more than an afternoon delight. If you want to stick to the theme, the Irish Bomb of Murphy’s, Jameson and Bailey’s is fine but there’s just something about the good ole’ Jager, does the trick every time.

“There is such an array at Irish House, that it can be boggling,” smiles Chef Rahul, “and we’re introducing more to the menu gradually as several venues mushroom in the city, and without.” Who’s complaining! You can relish the said array heartily, from Breads (the Sloppy Pig Out with pulled pork, Dubliner cheese and crispy fries and onions is our pick), to Pastas and Pizzas (Smoked Meat Spaghetti an interesting choice) or customise your grill, or opt for a DIY burger, pizza or pasta by just filling in the sheet and handing it over to your server!

Shares Chef, “Would you believe, when we threw open Irish to the Belgaum pubbers this year in May, the Terminator rocked the scene. We had an all-day Happy Hours and were we ever amazed at the response in the non-tier I city. Bombay, Poona, Calcutta, Bangalore and Belgaum, now Delhi, what a journey!” And India has lots more of the Irish luck coming its way, with expansion plans in Nehru Place, Connaught Place and Mall of India across NCR. In Bombay, it’s BKC and Poona, Koregaon Park. #TheIrishAreComing, and how!

From the time it made its entry as a noteworthy newcomer to having won the hearts and bellies of patrons from all over the country, The Irish House stands proud as the hip gastropub that’s loved by all, especially when St. Patrick’s is around the corner. Sure, it may be months away now but Irish is gearing up no doubt, for revellers expect only the best, as genuine as it can get.

Note, an approximate meal for two with alcohol would be Rs 1800 + taxes. And note to the ones who prefer a quiet Saturday night with good music, food and drink, you would do well to stay away from this space simply as the vibe is buzzing on the weekends and that’s the way we like it!

This article was published in UpperCrust Magazine, Oct-Dec 2017; used here with permission from the publisher