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Stout Public House: Stanley Cup Hockey brekky

If you can get over the ick, you’ll meet yum!

Original skins - vertical cut to potato skins makes for good finger food.
Original skins - vertical cut to potato skins makes for good finger food.

“We don’t talk a lot, but we do yell a lot,” says Jamie Dambois. Yah, for sure, there’s a lot of shouting at the screens here. Small surprise: this is the last week of the Stanley Cup, climax of the ice hockey year. And — confession alert! — I missed the actual Sunday night, the Night of Nights, at downtown’s Holy Grail of hockey fandom, Stout Public House, the Canadian-Irish pub at 6th and C downtown.

Place

Stout Public House

1125 Sixth Avenue, San Diego

But I was there Wednesday night, when they say the winner was really decided. Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. Best of seven. At that point, Avalanche was ahead two games to one. So let’s go there: halfway through tonight’s game, they’re drawn at 2-all, and the Lightning could even up the series. Place is full, but not packed like everybody says it will be for Sunday night’s final. (Last time I was at a final, this place was packed to the gills. And the thing was, you had Lithuanians, Russians, Canadians, Swedes, North Dakotans, Down Easters from Maine, Nutmeggers from Connecticut, Cheeseheads from Wisconsin, all good buddies united by love of their sport, ice hockey.) And it feels like it’s warming up as the game clock runs down.

Fans - Chris (left), Jamie, Alejandro. Jamie has been playing ice hockey for 40 years.

So I hike myself up to a stool at the bar. Taylor, I think he says — although with a near-goal racket going on, it’s hard to tell — asks what’ll it be. I decide on an Irish stout. Except the one I point to, Smithwick’s Ale, ain’t. Just turns out to be dark enough that it looks like a stout. Very Irish. Plus, I figure with the game going towards a climax here, I may as well get my food order in early.

Hmm. Big old menu, with everything on order from opening to close. Mainly, of course, we’re talking burgers, and in the first place, they have these bargain mini Angus beef burgers, sliders at $4 each. Then I’m tempted by the Brie cheese quesadilla ($12), because I like the idea of sloppy Brie, white cheddar, pico de gallo and sour cream. And I’d be prepared to pay for a shrimp add, even though it’s $7 extra.

Hmm. On the other hand, I could make this a true hockey-watching snack by going for the Stout potato skins ($10) with a chunk of their kinda-famous shepherd’s pie thrown in for $3.50 extra. Or, what they call their “damn good” 1/2 lb. burger, or hey, a 1/2 lb. flatiron prime steak over mushroom ragout with organic veggies and fries for $20. And of course, this joint being half Canadian (the owners are Canadian — Dave Toth — and Irish — Mark Prendergast) and most of the crowd being from somewhere in the “Northern Tier,” I prolly oughtta give poutine a shot. This poutine is basically “house-cut Canadian fries smothered in gravy” with cheese curds, costs $10, and you can add corned beef for five more bucks. Whatever, for pub fare, it’s starting to look good.

Irish breakfast - eggs, beans, sausages, and the stars, white and black puddings.

What changes everything, though, is when I spot their all-day breakfasts, ’cause they include an Irish brekky: “two eggs, imported Irish sausages, rashers [of bacon], black and white pudding, baked beans, red potatoes, and soda bread.” Costs $15. I mean, it’s a million miles from your healthy nuts and twigs breakfast, but now I’m curious: about those black and white puddings, red potatoes, and yeah, what thu heck is soda bread?

I put my order in. While I’m waiting, I notice the sound level’s going up. Shots at the Lightning goal seem to be near-miss after near-miss. A lot of shouting at the screens going on. The Avalanche are pushing hard. “We don’t talk a lot, but we yell a lot,” says Jamie again. I listen. He’s the real thing. Has been actually playing ice hockey for 40 years. “Now I’m in the old men’s league,” he says. “That’s tough enough.”

Luckily, we’re on a break when my evening breakfast turns up. I can concentrate on the food. Lots to concentrate on. First, this bowl of baked beans, the two eggs, sautéed potatoes, nice rough bacon, and the two things I’m really interested in, the black and white puddings and the soda bread. The puddings look different, but bite into them, and both have that warm taste of sweet blood. Which sounds kinda Count Dracula, but actually is delicious. We’re talking pork blood, pork fat, beef suet, and oat groats. Trust me. If you can get over the ick, you’ll meet yum!

Taylor brings my Irish breakfast.

Then there’s this crumbly soda bread. Turns out we’re talking a bread that doesn’t use yeast to rise. Usually a bicarbonate of soda does the leavening instead. It’s sour milk meets baking soda. That gives it its dense, crumbly texture, hard crust, and slightly sour flavor. It’s very much an Irish thing. Plain-spoken, but ready to crumble like a delicate relationship if you don’t embrace it wholeheartedly. And if you don’t expect too much, it gives you a lot. Specially if you ooze in some egg and black (or white) pudding. And if you rip open the egg yolks, mix in the beans, then start dipping the pudding slices and the Irish sausages, and, uh, leaven with the soda bread, you are not far from Nirvana, my friend. At least, that’s been my experience. Actually, I do add a tweak of hot sauce to edge it up a little, but hey, Ireland meets the border, right?

“Goal!”

Honestly, I had to leave before that magic word sets the Avalanche on their way to getting their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup. I fully intended coming back for the Sunday final, but, well, life took over. There’s many a slip, as they say, twixt cup and lip. Now, season’s over, it’s time to hang up the skates, time to go hibernate. Okay, correct word’d be estivate. Or, to quote a poem I just made up, all these gals and guys from the Northern Tier, they’ll be hiding from summer until next year.

The Place: Stout Public House, 1125 Sixth Avenue, downtown, 619-702-7933

Hours: 11am - 2am, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; 4pm - 2am, Saturday; 10am - 2am, Sunday; 4pm - 1am, Monday, Tuesday

Prices: Mini Angus beef burgers, $4 (3 for $11); one pound black Carlsbad mussels, $16; Brie cheese quesadilla, $12; three corned beef tacos, $12; potato skins, $10; Teriyaki salmon salad, $16; corned beef and cabbage, $16; shepherd’s pie, $14.50; Irish breakfast (all day), with 2 eggs, Irish sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, baked beans, potatoes, soda bread, $15; corned beef hash and eggs, $15; Stout burger, $13; flat iron 8oz prime steak, $20; poutine, gravy, bean curds, $10 (add corned beef, $5)

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Original skins - vertical cut to potato skins makes for good finger food.
Original skins - vertical cut to potato skins makes for good finger food.

“We don’t talk a lot, but we do yell a lot,” says Jamie Dambois. Yah, for sure, there’s a lot of shouting at the screens here. Small surprise: this is the last week of the Stanley Cup, climax of the ice hockey year. And — confession alert! — I missed the actual Sunday night, the Night of Nights, at downtown’s Holy Grail of hockey fandom, Stout Public House, the Canadian-Irish pub at 6th and C downtown.

Place

Stout Public House

1125 Sixth Avenue, San Diego

But I was there Wednesday night, when they say the winner was really decided. Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning. Best of seven. At that point, Avalanche was ahead two games to one. So let’s go there: halfway through tonight’s game, they’re drawn at 2-all, and the Lightning could even up the series. Place is full, but not packed like everybody says it will be for Sunday night’s final. (Last time I was at a final, this place was packed to the gills. And the thing was, you had Lithuanians, Russians, Canadians, Swedes, North Dakotans, Down Easters from Maine, Nutmeggers from Connecticut, Cheeseheads from Wisconsin, all good buddies united by love of their sport, ice hockey.) And it feels like it’s warming up as the game clock runs down.

Fans - Chris (left), Jamie, Alejandro. Jamie has been playing ice hockey for 40 years.

So I hike myself up to a stool at the bar. Taylor, I think he says — although with a near-goal racket going on, it’s hard to tell — asks what’ll it be. I decide on an Irish stout. Except the one I point to, Smithwick’s Ale, ain’t. Just turns out to be dark enough that it looks like a stout. Very Irish. Plus, I figure with the game going towards a climax here, I may as well get my food order in early.

Hmm. Big old menu, with everything on order from opening to close. Mainly, of course, we’re talking burgers, and in the first place, they have these bargain mini Angus beef burgers, sliders at $4 each. Then I’m tempted by the Brie cheese quesadilla ($12), because I like the idea of sloppy Brie, white cheddar, pico de gallo and sour cream. And I’d be prepared to pay for a shrimp add, even though it’s $7 extra.

Hmm. On the other hand, I could make this a true hockey-watching snack by going for the Stout potato skins ($10) with a chunk of their kinda-famous shepherd’s pie thrown in for $3.50 extra. Or, what they call their “damn good” 1/2 lb. burger, or hey, a 1/2 lb. flatiron prime steak over mushroom ragout with organic veggies and fries for $20. And of course, this joint being half Canadian (the owners are Canadian — Dave Toth — and Irish — Mark Prendergast) and most of the crowd being from somewhere in the “Northern Tier,” I prolly oughtta give poutine a shot. This poutine is basically “house-cut Canadian fries smothered in gravy” with cheese curds, costs $10, and you can add corned beef for five more bucks. Whatever, for pub fare, it’s starting to look good.

Irish breakfast - eggs, beans, sausages, and the stars, white and black puddings.

What changes everything, though, is when I spot their all-day breakfasts, ’cause they include an Irish brekky: “two eggs, imported Irish sausages, rashers [of bacon], black and white pudding, baked beans, red potatoes, and soda bread.” Costs $15. I mean, it’s a million miles from your healthy nuts and twigs breakfast, but now I’m curious: about those black and white puddings, red potatoes, and yeah, what thu heck is soda bread?

I put my order in. While I’m waiting, I notice the sound level’s going up. Shots at the Lightning goal seem to be near-miss after near-miss. A lot of shouting at the screens going on. The Avalanche are pushing hard. “We don’t talk a lot, but we yell a lot,” says Jamie again. I listen. He’s the real thing. Has been actually playing ice hockey for 40 years. “Now I’m in the old men’s league,” he says. “That’s tough enough.”

Luckily, we’re on a break when my evening breakfast turns up. I can concentrate on the food. Lots to concentrate on. First, this bowl of baked beans, the two eggs, sautéed potatoes, nice rough bacon, and the two things I’m really interested in, the black and white puddings and the soda bread. The puddings look different, but bite into them, and both have that warm taste of sweet blood. Which sounds kinda Count Dracula, but actually is delicious. We’re talking pork blood, pork fat, beef suet, and oat groats. Trust me. If you can get over the ick, you’ll meet yum!

Taylor brings my Irish breakfast.

Then there’s this crumbly soda bread. Turns out we’re talking a bread that doesn’t use yeast to rise. Usually a bicarbonate of soda does the leavening instead. It’s sour milk meets baking soda. That gives it its dense, crumbly texture, hard crust, and slightly sour flavor. It’s very much an Irish thing. Plain-spoken, but ready to crumble like a delicate relationship if you don’t embrace it wholeheartedly. And if you don’t expect too much, it gives you a lot. Specially if you ooze in some egg and black (or white) pudding. And if you rip open the egg yolks, mix in the beans, then start dipping the pudding slices and the Irish sausages, and, uh, leaven with the soda bread, you are not far from Nirvana, my friend. At least, that’s been my experience. Actually, I do add a tweak of hot sauce to edge it up a little, but hey, Ireland meets the border, right?

“Goal!”

Honestly, I had to leave before that magic word sets the Avalanche on their way to getting their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup. I fully intended coming back for the Sunday final, but, well, life took over. There’s many a slip, as they say, twixt cup and lip. Now, season’s over, it’s time to hang up the skates, time to go hibernate. Okay, correct word’d be estivate. Or, to quote a poem I just made up, all these gals and guys from the Northern Tier, they’ll be hiding from summer until next year.

The Place: Stout Public House, 1125 Sixth Avenue, downtown, 619-702-7933

Hours: 11am - 2am, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; 4pm - 2am, Saturday; 10am - 2am, Sunday; 4pm - 1am, Monday, Tuesday

Prices: Mini Angus beef burgers, $4 (3 for $11); one pound black Carlsbad mussels, $16; Brie cheese quesadilla, $12; three corned beef tacos, $12; potato skins, $10; Teriyaki salmon salad, $16; corned beef and cabbage, $16; shepherd’s pie, $14.50; Irish breakfast (all day), with 2 eggs, Irish sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, baked beans, potatoes, soda bread, $15; corned beef hash and eggs, $15; Stout burger, $13; flat iron 8oz prime steak, $20; poutine, gravy, bean curds, $10 (add corned beef, $5)

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