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By Bethel Poston
Several years ago my wife, Carol, and I qualified for a free trip to England and Ireland by buying a large quantity of appliances to sell at our Poston Furniture & Appliance stores.
I like to say we won the trip, but my dad said, “You paid for it in the cost of washers, ranges and refrigerators.”
(We decided to lower our selling prices in order to sell enough to qualify.)
In our travels, after seeing many recognized attractions, we always left the tourist crowd and mixed with the locals.
We found an Irish pub in Dublin, away from the downtown traffic. Then we realized we were the only people there who didn’t speak with an Irish accent.
I guess my East Tennessee accent was as hard for them to understand as theirs was to me. As a last resort, we could always point to the items on the menu.
The Dublin food was terrific, and we were pleased when Irish Times Pub & Restaurant opened in Knoxville’s Turkey Creek area four years ago.
On our previous visits to Irish Times, we were able to bring up memories of the Pub in Ireland.
On this “Out to Lunch” adventure I asked our friends, Jerry and Mickey Pease, to meet us at Irish Times. Jerry is part of the Pease Furniture family in Knoxville, and we met them more than 30 years ago — on another appliance trip to Cozumel, Mexico.
The photo of the stuffed pork sandwich on the menu influenced Jerry on his selection. The slices of pork loin stuffed with a homemade bread stuffing and topped with apple sauce arrived just like the photo, on bread, open-faced.
He also had a choice of fries, potato salad, coleslaw or a cup of soup. Again, the menu description led Jerry to go for the lobster bisque — tender lobster meat combined with sweet cream and rich lobster stock, then splashed with sherry and a touch of butter to finish the elegant and flavorful bisque.
He ordered a bowl instead of a cup, with extra spoons so we all could have a taste. He made a great choice.
Mickey selected the cottage pie made with ground beef, diced vegetables, fresh herbs and spices and topped with mashed potatoes and cheese, like a pie. This presentation arrived in a black iron skillet served on a wood tray.
I may be wrong, but I believe in Ireland it’s cottage pie; and in England it’s called shepherd’s pie.
Carol went for bangers and mash, made with two Irish sausages, homemade mashed potatoes topped with gravy and served with a fresh vegetable medley. She added a side of cabbage.
“Mine was the best!” she declared.
Previous readers of my articles know about my appetite for hot dogs. The closest thing to a hot dog on the menu was the Irish sausage sandwich, made with grilled Irish sausage and served with sautéed onions on a hoagie roll.
I chose lentil soup as my side and asked for some mustard to give the sausage an additional spicy flavor, which I didn’t need.
Irish Times owners Jon and Rachel Ferrie are both Irish and English. They first teamed up with executive chef Rafael “Rocco” Soto in South Florida at their previous Irish restaurant.
They worked together for numerous years before moving to Knoxville and meeting up with general manager Colm Doyle, a fellow Irishman
Colm told me, with a true Irish lilt, that Irish Times can seat 196 people in three areas of this authentically decorated pub with a full-service bar.
Regular and Irish coffee, mixed drinks, a large selection of imported beers from Ireland, England and Belgium are available with standard beverages.
The Pub, which is next to H.H. Gregg, opens every day at 11 a.m. and does not close until late.
I found Adam Kadlac, a University of Tennessee philosophy instructor, doing a good job on a beer-battered cod sandwich on his third visit to the restaurant. Fresh cod fillet is beer battered and deep fried and served with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato on a Kaiser roll. He chose fries as his side dish.
We had a medical crowd seated at the next table. Dr. Edward Buonocore, a retired UT Medical Center radiologist, and his wife, Bonnie, were sharing a traditional Irish breakfast of Irish bacon, Irish sausage rolls, black and white pudding, scotch hard boiled eggs, fried tomatoes and baked beans, served with homemade bread.
Seated with them was Dr. Jan Dungan, clinical audiologist at Appalachian Audiology. Also from Appalachian Audiology was Katie Stevenson a fourth-year doctoral audiology student; and patient services coordinator Bobbi Braton.
Katie had the St. Stephen’s sandwich of sliced turkey piled high with homemade bread stuffing and topped with cranberry sauce. She chose potato salad as her side.
Bobbi went for the lobster bisque, and because I was doing too much visiting, I did not record what Jan was eating.
If you want to be tempted go online to www.irishtimesknoxville.com and view photos of dishes like Brophy’s Irish stew made with lumps of tender beef, stewed with potatoes and vegetables in a brown Guinness gravy.
Or take a look at Mulligan’s baked mushrooms stuffed with lump crab and shrimp; or Rocco’s stuffed pork loin; or Galway chicken breast stuffed with sautéed spinach, mushrooms and a little garlic then wrapped with Irish bacon and baked.
I’ve mentioned in previous “Out to Lunch” articles about how we often meet someone with a common interest or contact.
The same was true with our server, Holly Schean, who was living with her father in Swan Pond on the day of the fly ash spill at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant.
The spill, two miles from our home, destroyed Holly’s father’s house, moving it onto the road with her father, John, still inside.
She was born in the house, originally owned by her grandparents.
Retired TVA employees Bill Redmond and Garry Pyle were sharing work history over lunch.
Bill, who now lives near Memphis, had the beer-battered cod sandwich on his second visit to Irish Times.
“Food’s good, or I would not have come back,” he said.
Garry, who lives in Andersonville, enjoyed a sandwich of cooked-on-site corned beef with spicy mustard Swiss cheese on New York rye bread.
Our group passed on desserts of key lime cream pie, hot fudge chocolate cake and red velvet cake. We instead opted for four spoons and an order of turtle cream pie of chocolate cookie crust, chocolate mousse, caramel, chocolate chips and pecans.
You know St. Patrick’s Day is March 17, and I hear they put up a tent for a real Irish Times celebration.
My Irish furniture friend, Bo Carey of Greer’s in Loudon, has provided music for the event in the past. I’ll bet he can do an Irish jig while playing the fiddle.
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Bethel Poston is a Roane County businessman and entrepreneur who writes about places of interest in our area. E-mail suggestions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.