Alright, I failed. Well, not exactly. I set out on a mission to find the best place to spend St. Patrick’s Day drinking Guinness. Sure, you could go anywhere to drink beer and celebrate the Irish festivities, but that’s like celebrating Independence Day at a Chinese restaurant. The part where I might have failed is that I originally conceived this pub crawl idea, in which I would describe several pubs you could stumble around to all day long.
The first hang up came when I discovered there are no Irish pubs around USF. There are three Vietnamese restaurants on Fowler, but not a single Irish pub within five miles of the University.
I did find four pubs near downtown. Okay, this I can work with. One of the pubs was MacDinton’s. Alright, I’ll go there, I thought. A review of Irish pubs wouldn’t be complete without it, I convinced myself. But everyone knows MacDinton’s; it’s not a surprise, or really anything all that great. I had a Guinness there and that was great. However, at 5 p.m. every Hyde Park thirty-something would be showing up to have a drink.
MacDinton’s wouldn’t do. It would be a great pre-game pub, but for the long haul, I thought somewhere with more authenticity would be in order. I looked over my remaining list of pubs and asked a more well-traveled, bar-going friend for a referral. “Four Green Fields,” my friend asserted, “It’s run by Irish, you can tell by all the IRA propaganda all over the walls. Good food too.”
I rallied the troops for a Saturday night at Four Green Fields. We arrived at 8 p.m. and sat at the bar. My friend pointed and said: “Look at the flag hanging over the bar.” There was an orange clover smack in the middle. I do not know anything about the politics of the British Isles, but if an orange clover helps them pour a better Black and Tan, I’m all for it.
That was my first order, a black and tan, a mix of Bass and Guinness. The Guinness contains a mixture of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, so it is lighter and floats on top of the pure carbon dioxide filled Bass. The drink provides a variety of taste, instead of just straight bitter Guinness or straight ale.
Here, at Four Green Fields, the somewhat difficult beverage preparation is executed perfectly – in my glass I can see a distinct line between the two beers. After we downed a good portion of our beers, we decide to order food. This was the only flaw of the pub. We placed our order and did not see the food materialize for over an hour. To be fair, the place was packed.
“Looks like everyone decided to come to Four Green Fields tonight,” the bartender said.
He was drowning in orders, and the place could have benefited from one or more bartenders to help keep him afloat. Although I saw people who ordered their food after us get it sooner than we did, it was fortunate that live music kept us interested.
A one-man band began playing Irish folk songs, hilarious ones. He had much of the crowd singing along. He essentially made the night worth the trip, and brought life to the bar. I felt as if I had been transported to Ireland, feeling buzzed and singing along. The musician eventually broke down to popular American songs, like “Build me up, Buttercup” and “American Pie.”
When our food finally arrived, we enjoyed fish and chips that had a strong crunch that satisfied and fluffy Shepard’s pie with savory ground beef. The best though, was the Irish stew. Thick and hardy with huge chunks of Guinness-roasted beef, it was mounded a good three inches higher than the bowl’s rim.
Radical militant supporters or not, Four Green Fields delivered, with rousing music, great food and foamy, delicious beer. I can imagine the madhouse it might have been on St. Patrick’s day, but at least you aren’t getting a watered-down Irish experience. On the front of the menus it even says: “The only authentic thatched-roof pub in the United States.” Authentic is almost always a good thing.