Restaurant: The Red Shamrock, Birmingham, Alabama
I really, really, really wanted to like this place. I did. An Irish pub is not a common establishment in Birmingham, Alabama. Honestly. I had been seeking out something aside from the horror show that is The Tilted Kilt for awhile now. And, finally, at long last, The Red Shamrock opens up in Mt. Laurel and my dreams of going to a pub while in Alabama came true.
The actual pub itself is quite small. A single room with a bar taking up an entire side of the room. We (being my mom, dad, grandpa, roommate, and myself) took up residence at the only table available that could seat all of us. Sadly, it was right in front of the door and Saturday night was a wee bit chilly. Ah well, at least we had seats.
The server brought us menus and let us look them over while he grabbed our drinks. Waters. All around. It was a long day full of racing, a gluten-free expo, and a birthday party for my nephew and my niece. We were all exhausted, and ready for some good food and down time.
Our orders were simple. My dad and grandpa were splitting a fish and chips ($8.95). My roommate was, of course, getting fish and chips. My mom and I were each getting a Shamrock Salad ($5.99). I got mine with a side of their waffle fries. When I placed my order, the server asked if I wanted to add chicken. I shook my head and informed him that I was a vegetarian.
After a short wait, food arrived. As my salad was put down in front of me, I noticed that it was sprinkled with bacon. BACON! I had just said I was a vegetarian. So, I informed the person (not the same server) of the issue and he took it away to bring me back another one.
Now…here is where I have an issue. First of all…nowhere on the menu did it say that bacon came on this salad. In fact, the official description via the online menu says that the Shamrock Salad consists of arugula, lettuce and cabbage mixed with red onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, grated cheese, and a side of my choice of dressing (which I opted for balsamic vinaigrette). No bacon. Not even mentioned on the description. So, already I was put out. A few moments later, my new salad arrives. This pub is quite dimly lit, it’s hard to see, but there were no bits of meat hanging out this time on my salad. It looked okay. I then had to remind him I also got a side of fries, which he then had to go retrieve…now…after my second salad had come out. That eventually made its way out as well.
One bite into my salad and I noticed the cheese on top is blue cheese! Now, blue cheese is normally not gluten-free. UGH. I moved it to the side and ate the untouched parts because nowhere in the salad description did it mention blue cheese either. I was now more put out than anything. Do NOT substitute something without asking if it is okay. While the salad was good, it wasn’t what I ordered. Literally.
The salad that I received at The Red Shamrock was not the Shamrock Salad via the description on their menu. Somewhere, be it the chef in the kitchen or the server pressing something wrong on the app they use to take the order, I ended up with a conglomeration of the Irish Iceberg (which has bacon, egg and blue cheese crumbles on it). You know…this is a new establishment, so I can give it a pass on some things, but it’s a salad. Look at your menu and know what is on it, please!! I was not impressed.
Oh, and after I ate my side of waffle fries, it occurred to me that this is a small establishment and that…more than likely, they use the same frier to do the potatoes as they do the breaded fish as well. Which between that and the bit of blue cheese might indicate why I had an upset tummy and digestive track for the evening and into the next day.
It’s ironic that this happen on the eve of my attendance at at Gluten-Free Expo and being a part of the Making Tracks for Celiacs 5K that was in town. Then…one miscommunication in the kitchen and my order goes horribly wrong.
And sadly…nothing really to rave about when it comes to The Red Shamrock. It sounded like a fantastic place when I read up on it. But it fell short of anything amazing. Once it figures out whether it wants to be a sports bar or an Irish pub, maybe gets its menu sorted, maybe trains it’s chef as to what goes on what order and why substitutions without asking are not wise, then…maybe I’ll return. Oh, and it would have been nice if the server (our third of the night!) returned with my dad’s change after he paid in cash, but that never happened either.
For now, I’ll stick to what I know is safe to eat in the Birmingham area when I’m in town to visit my parents. The luck of the Irish was not with me that night and sadly, this isn’t an establishment that I would recommend to anyone looking to dine on amazing Irish food. It was mediocre at best…and incapable of getting my order correct. Sad, because I really, really wanted to like it.