We Got Us an Irish Pub!

Written By: John Sancomb

Nov. 25, 2013

Beer choices to please every palate.

The locally famous building that now stands at 110 Wisconsin Ave. in West Bend has been feeding and offering cheer to residents of Washington County and beyond  for over 35 years. From its second location on Washington Avenue in West Bend, where it housed the Binkery, it made the epic move under the cover of night, to its present location on September 15th, 2009. Shortly after this momentous move, two friends, Todd Ceman and Dave Toman with over 25 years of experience in bar and restaurant management, opened Dublin’s Pub in Oshkosh. The creation of many pint-filled meetings culminated in the first location of the friends’ dream; an Irish themed pub that featured craft beers from the state and a way to give back to the community. It all began with a desire to bring something great to Oshkosh and the knowledge that there is nothing to equal the ambiance of an Irish pub, nothing to match its casual and attractive sociability. The Dublin’s web site, www.dublinswi.com, says it best, “An Irish pub is warm, welcoming places where people socialize, relax, tell stories, and exchange gossip and rumors over a pint. Dublin’s Irish Pub brings a bit of Ireland to Oshkosh, WI with an authentic, warm and welcoming teaching tabhairne (“tavern-house”).”

November 11th of 2013 saw the opening of Dublin’s in West Bend. Sharing the same spirit as the Oshkosh location, the atmosphere will be Irish. Drinks that provide the true flavor of Ireland are essential, such as Guinness, Harp, Jameson, Bushmills and Bailey’s Irish Cream. Distinctive Irish recipes and food are another important part of Irish pub life, attracting custom and adding ambiance. With over 30 selections of craft beer on tap, you can’t find a better place in Wisconsin for an ice cold beer. 

The atmosphere is heightened by the remodeling of the building that was done by property owners Kevin and Amy Zimmer. The original public space was restricted to the one floor for bar, eating and kitchen space. The Zimmers didn’t let the past uses dictate their vision, and expanded the restaurant to all three levels of the building, adding the main dining level on the second floor and the special space on the third floor, where a chef’s table will treat 8-10 people to a 6 course evening based on the whim of the chef and suggestions of the participants. This new shape of the space is punctuated with some very unique and dynamic design elements. As you look up at the conduit, or piping that carries the wires from one lighting fixture to another, you recognize the 1990s screen saver where the screen is filled with pipes that bend and maneuver to build a network of pipes that go everywhere. Above this network of conduit is the air circulation fans that are made out of airplane propellers.

Chef Scott and his team in action.

The inside is striking. The outside is equally as impressive with a massive outdoor fireplace and curved wood fence that pay respect to the artistry that is exemplified by Dublin’s neighbor, The Museum of Wisconsin Art. This showcase patio won’t get much use through the seasonally indoor-favoring Wisconsin winter, but they have great plans for the space once we emerge from the snow. The stone fire place, made from salvaged rock, will set the atmosphere for the 70 to 80 diners. “The space would be perfect for outdoor cooking,” says executive chef, Scott Cathcart, ”I could even see events like pig roasts, out there”.

The food, that will be a great mix of Irish faire and wonderful American cuisine, is an important focus of the West Bend location. The food is expertly crafted by the team headed by executive chef Scott Cathcart who received his training at the Culinary Institute in Vermont and continued at the La Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scott got most of his restaurant experience in the greater San Diego area managing restaurants in San Diego and La Joya. Chef Scott’s culinary philosophy is, “Whatever you are cooking, make it your very best whether it's a hamburger or foie gras. A great chef has to have a broad range of culinary skills and must be able to cook the simplest dishes to the most extravagant.”

About 4 months ago, Scott was encouraged to make the move to Wisconsin by his girlfriend and a new 9 month old.  They wanted to move to a state that not only was a better place to raise their child, but was closer to Scott’s girlfriend’s hometown of Plymouth, WI. “People are more down-home here,” Scott notes, “everybody’s so nice.“  Since starting his career at age 15 as a fish cutter at a restaurant called The Fish Market, Scott has been honing his culinary skills and we, in West Bend, are the lucky community to have him create the world class dishes that set Dublin’s apart.

The outdoor fireplace ready for spring.

The plans for the menu at Dublin’s will be evolving in the months to come to ensure quality for the new crew and a consistent experience for the customers. The months to come promise a great variety, based on Scott’s vision and the Dublin’s mission. With the new $20 thousand smoker in the kitchen, Scott says that they will be making ribs, chicken, prime rib, salmon, steaks, and even burgers with a unique twist that will set Dublin’s apart from other local offerings. Scott even said that he can see sausage making in the future.  The menu is based on a moderate amount of Irish influence with the main drive being a gastro-pub fare where the pub food gets an upscale treatment and delivery.  You’ll find Great British favorites as bangers ‘n mash mixed with melting-pot combos such as colcannon pierogies.  They also plan on having standards such as corned beef and cabbage once a week. Scott likes the idea of small plates where a table can order a number of plates and share the dishes in a family style eating experience.

Many restaurants have used the approach of wine pairings to offer suggestions to diners of enhancements to the dining experience. The concept of beer pairings is gaining popularity and Dublin’s is exceptionally well suited to offer this facet.   They have a wide selection of beers and since they rotate the beers often they will pair the styles and classes of beer to the dishes, giving a more complete offer-benefit pairing.  This will give the diner not only a great suggestion, but show the aspects that make the pairings complementary. Along with pairings, the kitchen will be using a variety of different beers in the recipes to add layers to the flavors of the dishes. From marinates to steaming mediums, the use of the craft brews in the recipes will add extra layers to the dishes and to your experience.

One aspect of the Dublin’s family that really impressed me is the generous approach they bring to their locations when it comes to charity. The standard of giving was forged in the Oshkosh Dublin’s , holding events that benefit groups such as the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity, The Art Foundation of Oshkosh, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and many more. The events that they are able to help these groups include beer festivals and guest bartending events and the like.  “Any event we do, we like to team up with a charity,” says Steve Gabelbauer, the general manager of the Oshkosh location. They are planning to continue the tradition of giving back to the community in West Bend and had even started their community partnership with the Museum of Wisconsin Art, before Dublin’s officially opened, with sponsorship inclusion in their event, Savor, on November 7th, 2013.

The building is stunning. The food is great. The thing that will keep you going back is the people. Everyone I met made the visit one to remember. I really felt that I went to their place and they wanted me to feel at home and welcome. In a word, Slainte!

The recipe this week is the Irish comfort food, colcannon. A standard Irish side dish and a Celtic twist on mashed potatoes that would make a great Thanksgiving dish!

 

Colcannon

3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed

1 stick butter

1 cup sour cream

Freshly ground black pepper

1 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded

1 pound of bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 cloves of garlic minced

Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish

Peel and cook potatoes in unsalted water for 20 minutes or until fork-tender.  Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add sour cream, stirring all the time. Season with pepper to taste.  Boil cabbage for 10 minutes and drain.  Add cabbage, garlic, and bacon to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently. Let sit warming for 20 minutes.  Serve as mashed potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley.