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Foxy boxty 

Liz Feltham's eyes are smilin' at Celtic Corner, where authentic Irish fare is done right.

It’s hard to believe another restaurant actually sat here, where the Celtic Corner is—it looks and feels as though it’s been here forever. It’s a welcoming environment in which we feel instantly comfortable, as do a lot of other people, judging from the large Tuesday night crowd.

In the back of the room are several “snugs,” private tables in little rooms designed for more intimate gatherings or tete-a-tetes, or perhaps just a place to chat away from the live music that plays here most nights. We opt for a table up front. The simple wooden plank tables are nothing fancy, but that’s in keeping with the rest of the surroundings.

My dinner companion, who’s spent a little too much time in Irish pubs, comments on the authenticity of the surroundings; for example, the sign says “Toilets” and not “Washrooms,” and there is little on the walls other than the mirrored adverts for the various beverages they ply—Kilkenny, Guinness, Rickard’s and Stella, to name just a few.

The menu is varied, with a focus on Irish food like chicken and leek pie, fishermen’s pie and Irish stew. We decide to go right for the mains—we need to save some room for the desserts, about which we’ve heard so much.

Boxty is an Irish potato pancake, and the Trinity Steak Boxty ($8.95) is a rustic pancake, folded over crepe-style and stuffed with tender steak, sauteed mushrooms and a whisky cream sauce that lingers on the tongue with a pleasant tingling. On the side is the soup of the day, chicken with rice and vegetables. It’s a simple soup, almost as full of flavour as it is of vegetables, served in a deep bowl that keeps it hot to the last spoonful.

Brenton’s BBQ ribs and chips (at $15.95, one of the most expensive things on the moderately priced menu) look at first to be a small portion—until I dig into the ribs. They’re not the most tender I’ve eaten, but they are certainly manageable. We make short work of the thick, meaty ribs. The sauce is indeed as delicious as promised; not too sweet, and suitably tangy. My only wish is that there was an extra bit of sauce on the side for dipping. The french fries are of the previously frozen variety, but they’ve been cooked until very brown and come with malt vinegar on the side, if desired.

There isn’t a dessert menu; instead, the server lists them at the table for us. The first couple of offerings are cheesecakes, and then she gets to the good stuff: warm brownie and ginger apple cake ($5.95 each). These are comfort desserts, simple yet heartwarming. Both are served warm with caramel sauce and both are very good indeed. The brownie is not overly sugary, but is rich with chocolatey goodness. The ginger apple cake is topped with warm apples and the sharpness of the ginger cuts through the sweetness of the accompanying caramel sauce with just the right tones.

As we linger over coffee, I take a look around at the other patrons. I’m struck by the diversity—at one table, a group of IT professionals at a goodbye party for a colleague. Over there, a longer table with a group of older ladies wearing red hats—a Red Hat Society group, perhaps. Parents with a small child stop in for supper, as does a retired couple who come in from just around the corner. Two other men arrive in business attire, just off the ferry from Halifax—it’s a real gathering place, this Corner.

Celtic Corner69 Alderney Drive464-0764Sun - Thur 11am to 12amFri - Sat 11am to 1am

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