To get myself primed for an upcoming trip to Dublin, I stopped by Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub for a bit of an immersive experience.
Claddagh has occupied a small storefront in a tiny strip mall on Curry Ford Road, nestled between a funeral home and beauty salon for almost 19 years. It's atmospheric inside, with plaster walls, wooden tables that have not seen any Lemon Pledge for ages, and the various pubby wall hangings and hand-written signs you'd expect to find in such a tavern. And make no mistake: This is a tavern first and foremost.
But it also serves a decent menu of Irish pub fare. On my visit I ordered the Irish stew — because how could I not? — and the cottage pie (after all, the place is called Claddagh Cottage).
The stew had lots of beef and carrots, plus onions and potatoes, enough to qualify as hearty in ingredients if not in the thinnish broth (which is just fine with an Irish stew). It was brought down a bit by the toughness of the meat and a too-heavy dose of thyme.
I much preferred the cottage pie, a one-dish casserole of ground beef with peas and some carrots in a rich gravy, topped by a mashed potato dome. A little dash of the bottled brown sauce — the Irish equivalent of A-1 — and it was just right.
And of course there are some native beers and ales to wash everything down.
The clientele is made up of people who seem to be regulars, but an outsider was welcomed, too.
Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub is at 4308 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. It is open for dinner Monday through Saturday. There is no website. The stew was $7.25 and the cottage pie $7.50, so consider it reasonably priced.