Dining outdoors on a quiet patio, watching the sun set over Ballston Spa. A couple of nice craft beers, a good meal.
Our recent visit to Henry’s Irish Tavern, a bar and restaurant that opened more than a month ago across the street from The Whistling Kettle, was the ultimate in weekend relaxation.
Hubby and I decided to sit outdoors at one of the half-dozen attractive black umbrella tables on the west side of the tavern, facing the soldier statue and Wiswall Park. Even on a Saturday night, only a few people passed by on the sidewalk.
Inside the tavern, plenty of people in a party mood were crowded around TV screens watching the Kentucky Derby.
Henry’s has a stone fireplace, potted plants, a pressed-tin ceiling, hightop tables and storefront window seats that look out on Front Street. There’s live music on Saturdays and some week nights.
Henry’s Irish Tavern
Henry’s Irish Tavern
WHERE: 19 Front St., Ballston Spa. 309-3584, www.henrysirishtavern.com, Facebook
WHEN: 11 a.m.-12 a.m. daily
HOW MUCH: $40, not including beer, tax and tip
MORE INFO: All credit cards accepted, street parking, handicapped accessible
But back to the patio.
Choose your brew
From the eight craft brews on tap, Hubby picked Kuka Banana Nut Brown Ale, a nutty dark English brown made in Rockland County, and I went for Alagash White from Maine, a Belgian wheat-style as light as lemonade.
The only Irish beer on tap seemed to be Guinness.
The “comfort food” menu was light on the Irish too. Fish & chips, shepherd’s pie and poutine with a Guinness gravy.
Menu favorites are marked with a tiny image of an Irish derby hat, and those include Henry’s Mac & Cheese, a crock of campanelle pasta (ruffled cone shapes) baked with brie, havarti, fontina and cheddar.
Hubby’s appetizer was Chicken Corn Chowder, $4, packed with chicken, potatoes, onion and corn. “It’s a perfect balance of flavor and texture,” he said.
Arriving in style
My spinach salad, a very generous half-order, $6, made a stunning entrance.
Chips of bacon, cherry tomatoes and a sliced egg were artfully arranged, each member of the trio on its own, resting on spinach leaves selected and placed to please the eye.
Underneath, where it could not dampen the leaves, a small pool of sweet-sour dressing appeared, an option that allowed me to decide how much of it to swish into the spinach.
Fish & Chips, $13, gets a derby designation, and now I know why. The beer batter is thin, deep golden and extra-crisp, a deeply satisfying cocoon for a long hunk of moist white meat.
Thumbs up on the hand-cut fries, thumbs down on the coleslaw. A slight 1/4 cup, the slaw is more of a condiment than a complement, which would be fine, but it was much too vinegary.
“Really, really good. The noodles are extremely tender,” Hubby said of his Pappardelle Bolognese, $17, a bowl of wide noodles topped with meat sauce.
There were minor troubles that didn’t mar our evening.
Our pints of beer were headless, the foam probably killed by soap used to clean the glasses.
Our friendly server was obviously a newbie. We had to ask for a drink menu and she never told us about the menu specials, which we overheard another server reciting at the next table.
The wire chairs are very comfy and the tables roomy, but the wait staff had trouble squeezing by the tables and under the umbrellas.
But we’ll return to Henry’s, without a doubt.
And if it rains, we will go inside.
Reach Gazette reporter Karen Bjornland at 395-3197 or [email protected]