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Dining Out: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at fine Irish pub

Grandstand

85-35 Grand Ave.

Elmhurst

718-478-9633

She came from County Wicklow and marches up front in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. On the way back to her Queens County home, she stops at the Grandstand, an Irish pub restaurant, on Grand Avenue in Elmhurst.

The moment you turn off Queens Boulevard onto Grand you leave hustle and bustle behind. Right there at the corner sits a pub, large and red but with the wearing of the green inside. And you’ll hear a heavy brogue all along the bar.

Irish craftsmen have brought a bit of Erin to Grandstand with the fine hand made wooden tables in the booths. There’s stained glass and touches of their old sod handiwork every where.

Waitresses, Colleens with a brogue, wear open necked white shirts with a black tie knotted half way down. John Brown, the jovial proprietor, converses with diners about the forthcoming festivities while keeping an eye on everything there in the bar/dining area and in the next dining room with lamps aglow, a post beside each booth.

A glass of sherry or Guinness from the tap seems like an appropriate accompaniment to a prawn cocktail opener — five of them, arranged on an iceberg lettuce-lined plate, each draped with a bit of special, creamy, cocktail sauce.

Soup comes with the meal. A cup of seafood bisque for my dining companion and cream of broccoli for me. It tastes deliciously creamy but not calorific — a challenge for the chef, Ann Carr. Duck á la orange excited my companion’s palate. She explained, “In Ireland, we always had duck and goose for New Year’s day.” It was a half she ordered, crisply roasted to a mellow mahogany. Mashed potatoes and mashed turnips, another bit of Ireland dining nostalgia, accompanied the duck. And there was a sauce boat with Grand Marnier orange sauce.

Gaelic chicken was my choice — a large breast devoid of skin, and so purely white it must be poached in milk. The pan cream sauce is enhanced with Irish whiskey (it does wonders!) and snippets of mushrooms. Mashed potatoes and what shall it be? Turnips or cauliflower? I was tempted to have white cauliflower. (Martha Stewart had once done an all white press luncheon to accompany white wines and it worked.) But I really craved turnips, too often relegated to a once-a-year Thanksgiving status.

Our bread basket held slices of moist, wonderful Irish wheat bread and large, thick slices of, of course, Irish soda bread.

My companion ordered an Irish style apple pie and ice cream finale noting that she’d be baking several on Saturday for her Sunday St. Patrick’s party. Trifle was my natural choice. It was a tall sherbet filled with a sherry-soaked cake trifle and covered with wonderful, softly whipped cream — the kind that envelops Irish coffee.

You’ll find such Irish favorites on Grandstand’s menu as: Irish fish and chips (Irish because it’s sole in beer batter); shepherd’s pie, a traditional favorite combining chopped beef, onions, carrots and topped with mashed potatoes; and, of course, the Irish mixed grill.

Lunch is a scaled down dinner menu plus sandwiches (grilled cheese with tomato and bacon or ham, or a steak sandwich with sautéed onion and cheese), salads (shrimp, of course) and an array of burgers served with lettuce, tomato and French fries. There’s calves liver with bacon and onions, stuffed chicken with bacon and steak tidbits, smoked pork chops and a Virginia ham steak.

Grandstand has a Saturday and Sunday brunch: corned beef hash with eggs and fried cabbage for instance and an Irish style brunch which consists of bacon, sausage, eggs, black pudding, white pudding and home fries.

Irish coffee? Naturally!

The Bottom Line

Irish craftsmen authenticated Grandstand. Great atmosphere. The brogue along the bar adds to it. Fine food with Irish favorites. Nice service by white-shirted Colleens.

Choice Chef’s

Steamed mussels with garlic...$7.95

Blooming onion (whole onion fried & served with sauce)...$6.95

Irish style fish & chips (beer batter sole)...$11.95

Pan-fried fillet of sole (with basil, tomato, garlic, & wine)...$14.95

Corned beef & cabbage...$14.95

Rack of lamb...$15.95

Irish style apple pie...$3.25

Sherry trifle...$3.25

Irish coffee...$5

Cuisine: Irish pub/restaurant

Setting: Hand-crafted

Service: Colleens

Hours: L&D 7 days. Brunch Sat & Sun

Parking: Street

Location: S of Queens Blvd

Dress: Casual

Children: Appetizers & sandwiches

Credit cards: All major

Party room: To 75

Takeout: Yes

Off-premise catering: Yes

Music: Karaoke Fri & Sat. Live music (band)

Sun Noise level Fri & Sat: Moderate to noisy

Smoking: None

Handicap access: Yes

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