When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Irish Cottage Food & Spirits
108-07 72nd Ave., Forest Hills
Hours: Daily, noon to 4 a.m.
Credit Card: Yes, all major
There’s a place in Forest Hills where old Ireland never died, and a piping hot shepherd’s pie is always waiting.
Irish Cottage Food & Spirits has been in Forest Hills for more than a half century, serving up great traditional Irish food and American favorites. On a chaotic Election Day, I ducked into the quaint restaurant right off Austin Street to take in some tasty grub to fill me up for a long night. I was greeted by Irish Cottage’s proprietor, Kathleen McNulty, who hails from Donegal, Ireland. She recommended a shepherd’s pie and some soda bread. Without hesitation, I took her recommendation.
Hearty, affordable food is what Irish Cottage is all about. In a world of soulless chain restaurants, Irish Cottage is a wonderful blast from the past, where everyone knows your name and what you want to fill your stomach. Have a drink at the bar or sit down in one of the many comfortable booths to devour an Irish breakfast or Gaelic chicken (the secret is the whiskey sauce).
Kathleen and her son Danny McNulty (who once played the role of “Harley” Keiner, Cory Matthews’ tormentor, on the ABC television show “Boy Meets World”) made me feel right at home. With the prompt arrival of my shepherd’s pie, we discussed the food and clothing drives Irish Cottage has held for all those who have been ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. Donations can still be dropped off at the restaurant. Danny told me he had come back from Arizona to help his mother prepare for the storm. It ended up flooding her house in Long Beach, Long Island, though the family Bible, quite miraculously, remained dry.
The shepherd’s pie was one of the richest and most filling meals I’ve had in some time. Ground beef, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots swirled together to create a truly satisfying lunch. I drenched my shepherd’s in steak sauce and even dipped some soda bread in the mashed potatoes (I’m not sure if they do that in Ireland but I’m guessing they don’t). The shepherd’s pie is Irish Cottage’s staple, but you should also try the pork chops, onion soup and chicken curry.
After I had devoured my meal, I thought of all the great things Ireland has given the world: James Joyce, whiskey, St. Patrick’s Day and so on. Add Irish Cottage to the list.
- Ross Barkan