High­land food fa­vorites and beer

The Morning Call - - RESTAURANT REVIEW - By Glenn Koehler

English and Ir­ish cook­ing gen­er­ally don’t get their due in the Le­high Val­ley, with most places serv­ing only bar food that scantly re­sem­bles that of the Isles.

Un­til re­cently, the lone out­lier may have been McCarthy’s Red Stag Pub in Beth­le­hem. But now, thanks to a new spot in the Al­len­town Farmer’s Mar­ket, there’s an­other place nearby to get your bangers and mash. In fact, the restau­rant, dubbed The Proper Lit­tle Pub, is owned by John O’Reilly and Jay Cole­man, the lat­ter a for­mer man­ager of McCarthy’s.

The eatery opened in late June, and has since added beer to the menu. They’re also work­ing on in­stalling a small brew­ing sys­tem that will al­low them to serve some in-house beers, like a Guin­ness clone and other Ir­ish and Bri­tish styles — in ad­di­tion to cider.

The menu is very suc­cinct, with just five dishes on the menu. It in­cluded some clas­sics, like lamb shep­herd’s pie, potato and leek soup, and Guin­ness beef stew — the soups come with a side of tra­di­tional Ir­ish brown bread.

There was also an in­ter­est­ing take on a Philly clas­sic: the Ir­ish cheeses­teak, made with corned beef, cab­bage, onion and Cheese Whiz. For early birds, there was also an Ir­ish break­fast sandwich with Ir­ish soda bread topped with a choice of ba­con or sausage, egg and Ir­ish ched­dar.

Set­ting and dé­cor: Since the pub is lo­cated in the (typ­i­cally) bustling Al­len­town Farmer’s Mar­ket, it’s not the qui­etest of lo­cales, but the bar stool seat­ing was out of the way enough to en­joy a meal with lit­tle has­sle.

While a dif­fi­cult task in a farmer’s mar­ket, the eatery does its best to repli­cate the look of a tra­di­tional pub — with a wood ve­neer, faux stained glass, framed pic­tures that re­sem­bled the White Cliffs of Dover, and flags from Wales, Ire­land and more adorn­ing the ser­vice area.

A board with the menu lineup sat on one side of the bar, with HP sauce and Dad­dies sauce avail­able as condi­ments. Not only is the space a restau­rant, it also serves as a mar­ket for those look­ing for Ir­ish and English spe­cial­ties, with a ton of fresh and canned items such as bangers, rash­ers, shep­herd’s pie, and black pud­ding avail­able to take home.

Food: I started my meal with the potato and leek soup ($4.50), a fan­tas­tic ap­pe­tizer, es­pe­cially with fall weather ahead.

Ev­ery­thing was served very ca­su­ally, ei­ther in plas­tic or in to-go con­tain­ers, and all of the cui­sine was pre­pared ear­lier and re­heated for serv­ing. That aside, the soup tasted great, nicely salted (for my tastes, which may be too much for some), and was served with a slice of ex­cel­lent Ir­ish brown bread and two pats of but­ter.

The soup had large chunks of pota­toes that de­liv­ered the right amount of soft­ness, and leeks that sim­ply van­ished into the mix, yield­ing a rich and sump­tu­ous starter.

Few things can make farm­ers shop­ping bet­ter than hav­ing a beer be­fore do­ing so. While they’re still work­ing on get­ting their brew­ing sys­tem up and run­ning (their fer­menter was still be­ing fig­ured out be­hind the bar), they’re al­ready serv­ing up fa­vorites like brews from Fe­g­ley’s, Troegs, Yuengling, Vic­tory and Ban­ter’s Cider for a mere $5 a pint.

I fin­ished my meal with lamb shep­herd’s pie ($7.50), which I was warned would take a while to heat. In no rush, I agreed, and was re­warded with a won­der­fully fla­vor­ful en­trée. It was the type of meal that you might en­joy at Beth­le­hem’s Celtic Clas­sic and yearn for year-round

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