29 and Under: Evans Public House has hearty fare in Irish pub setting

Evan Publilc House is out-of-the-way, but worth a trip.

GUILDERLAND — Sometimes, when I’m due to file a restaurant review, I set out with no particular destination in mind and let the fates be my guide. This has resulted in some delightful finds and also some awful experiences, including food poisoning on one occasion.

But, on my last such outing, I was pleased to come upon Evans Public House, and the name enticed me to stop.

Evans Public House

WHERE: 5180 Western Turnpike, Guilderland. Phone 356-1116

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays; 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

HOW MUCH: $28.52

MORE INFO: All major credit cards. Children’s menu. Handicapped accessible.

The place is a little out of the way — on Western Turnpike beyond the heavily trafficked stretch of Route 20 — but Brenda and Gary Evans, who opened the place last May, are counting on future housing development in the neighborhood to put them right in the middle of a new population bulge, which surely will be good for business. (The restaurant was formerly the Chariot Restaurant and Banquet House, run for more than 30 years by Mike and Penny Shinas.)

While the Evanses consider their business a restaurant and banquet house, it also has the feel of an Irish pub about it. In fact, there are signs hanging in the pub section of the place that make the point. “Irish diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell and make them look forward to the trip,” says one of them. On the day I visited, the big screen TV in the bar was showing a Jets game.

I ordered lunch for two of us, and I brought back one of them — the day’s special sandwich. It was the pub’s take on chicken Cordon Bleu, a grilled chicken breast fillet, topped with ham and Swiss cheese, tomato and lettuce and served on grilled ciabatta bread with a dill pickle spear and french fries. A savory honey Dijon and tarragon cream sauce is served on the side for dipping, and we agreed it was quite good. The price was only $6.95.

Cream of tomato

The highlight of my visit was the homemade cream of tomato soup, a flavorful creamy bisque with nice bits of tomatoes. It was brightly seasoned and good enough for me to send compliments to the chef. All the soups are made on the premises, Brenda Evans noted. The price is $3 for a cup or $3.75 for a bowl of the soup du jour, and if you get a chance to try the cream of tomato, don’t hesitate.

The shepherd’s pie ($9.95) was my choice, and I was pleased with the dish with one exception. There were the usual strata of peas and carrots, ground beef and gravy, and mashed potatoes, but the top was unconventionally covered with melted cheese. I prefer the top to be a nicely broiler-crisped layer of mashed potatoes. Keep the cheese, thanks, though that’s a personal preference, and the “pie” was otherwise quite a savory treat.

Our tab, for soup, soda, two entrees, tax and tip, came to a modest $28.52, which I considered reasonable.

Besides soup, appetizers available include something they call Irish Nachos ($7.95), sliced potatoes fried to a golden brown and topped with cheddar cheese, diced bacon and hearty chili; coconut ale-battered shrimp ($8.95); and baked brie en croute ($8.95), a wedge of creamy brie baked in puff pastry and accompanied by lightly toasted baguette slices, fruit, carrot sticks and melba sauce.

Under “Pub Fare,” the Evanses offer an Angus Burger Extravaganza ($8.50), 9 ounces of Angus sirloin, charbroiled and served on a hearty roll with lettuce and tomato and topped with choice of two of the following: Swiss, horseradish cheddar or American cheese, sauteed mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, crispy bacon or sauteed onions. (You can have all of the toppers, of course, for a little extra money.)

Entrees include Seamus’ Smothered Sirloin Steak ($24.95), slices of 10-ounce USDA prime sirloin grilled and layered with caramelized onions, diced bacon and melted blue cheese crumbles, and a catch of the day at market price. They also offer a Ravioli du Chef, which is market priced (depending on the stuffing).

Lunch and dinner specials also are available.

Napkin notes

While we call it shepherd’s pie, the same dish in England and Australia is known as cottage pie. Americans tend to use beef in shepherd’s pie, while British and Australian cooks use lamb and mutton. The purpose of the dish was the same everywhere originally: to recycle leftovers into a new, appetizing dish.

Categories: Food, Life and Arts

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