It’s hard to serve quality food at a big event. There are more people, less parking spots, longer lines…Food quality is often sacrificed in favor of speed and convenience. Many local Irish pubs and delis, whose food I normally love, suffer a dip in quality on St. Patrick’s Day. The Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor, FL is an exception. Their menu of Irish food expands on St. Patrick’s Day and somehow the corned beef seems extra tasty.
When we arrived at the Lucky Dill, around 7pm last night, their regular parking lot was already full, but a parking attendant directed us onto a patch of grass in front of the restaurant. Outside the restaurant, a small bar, patio tables, and chairs sat under striped tents. We ordered some green beer at the bar and sat at one of the outside tables while we waited for a table inside.
After about 15 minutes, a waiter came to our table outside and asked if we would like to order an appetizer. There were a lot of great choices on the special St. Patrick’s Day menu, including Reuben egg rolls and Reubenettes. Reubenettes are mini corned beef reubens, with a mound of corned beef and sauerkraut stuffed between two slices of cocktail rye bread. You get three miniature reubens, a bowl of fries, and a side of Thousand Island dressing with each order. As we ate, we heard a bagpipe player in the parking lot play Amazing Grace.
A table became available inside just as we were finishing our appetizer. We were seated in an extra dining room behind the bar, fully decorated for St. Patrick’s Day with green-and-white balloons, streamers, and shamrock mobiles.
The entrée selections were an impressive collection of Irish specialties, including Corned Beef & Cabbage, Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness-braised Ribs, Hot Corned Beef Sandwich, and Reuben sliders. After ordering, our waitress brought us the customary bread basket; instead of the standard deli rolls, it was filled with Irish Soda Bread.
These soft rolls, filled with caraway seeds and raisins/currants, tasted like a mild rye bread. This was the first opportunity I’d ever had to try Irish Soda Bread, and I actually enjoyed it more than the usual bread offering. For my entrée, I had Bangers & Mash: 4 Irish Sausages on top of a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with gravy. The mashed potatoes were buttery and peppery and absolutely delicious paired with tender Irish sausages and gravy.
Finally, every meal + drink purchase at The Lucky Dill comes with free dessert. Normally you have your choice between cheesecake or apple strudel, but on St. Patrick’s Day you get Irish Flag Cake, a white layer cake dyed the colors of the Irish flag. As you can see below, each slice was topped with St. Patrick’s Day sprinkles.
As delicious as this meal was, St. Patrick would have never eaten this stuff. St. Patrick lived in 5th century Ireland, long before corned beef and quick breads were invented. According to Irish Central, St. Patrick’s diet likely consisted of milk, butter, cheese, leavened bread, eggs, fish, seaweed, honey, and apples. Potatoes weren’t introduced to Ireland until the 17th century. Sausages weren’t called Bangers until World War I, when they were made with so much water they often popped upon cooking. March 17th didn’t become an official Christian feast day until the early 17th century—12 centuries after St. Patrick’s death. The feast continues through this weekend at The Lucky Dill in Palm Harbor, FL.