Tuesday, February 7, 2012

O’Rourke’s Diner Cures Irish Discrimination

O’Rourke’s Diner
728 Main St.
Middletown, CT

Look, I’ll be the first to admit, the Irish aren’t exactly known for creative, delicious cuisine.

At my Catholic Church pot luck, I’m headed straight for the dishes brought by the Italians.

Or the Cubans.

Or the Polish. Or the Hungarians. Or the Germans, Mexicans or Czechs.

Heck, I’ll even eat French food before Irish.

We Irish have a good way with Smithwicks, whiskey and words, but put us in the kitchen and we’re worthless.

Irish need not apply.

Like all our other misfortunes, I’m pretty sure the British are to blame for this one too.

Boiled potatoes anyone?

So I can understand why you might be bit hesitant about chowing down at an “Irish” Diner.

But you’d be wrong to be skeptical about O’Rourke’s Diner in Middletown, Connecticut. The joint is famous the world over for over-the-top delicious food.

This 71 year old institution is so famous and so beloved that when it was gutted by a kitchen fire six years ago, the local community went out and raised over $300,000 to help Brian O’Rourke, the diner’s owner, rebuild.

General Motors and Chrysler destroy themselves by appeasing the UAW bosses and building crappy cars and then demand a multi-billion dollar Bush/Obama taxpayer bailout.

A fire destroys O’Rourke’s and it is the hungry loyal customers who voluntarily help raise their beloved diner from the ashes.

Now THAT’S how it is supposed to work!

Brian O’Rourke repays that loyalty every day in his kitchen churning out a mind-boggling variety of unique creative culinary creations, many with an Irish twist.

The breakfast menu is eight pages. Eight!

Thirty crazy combination omelets. A dozen varieties of eggs Benedict. Half a dozen versions of French toast. I could spend all morning perusing the menu.

And miss my important Suit757 meeting. And get fired.

That would be bad. I needed to narrow the decision-making process before my head exploded.

Normally under these circumstances, I just go with whatever is the most unique, crazy over-the-top dish I can find. Which includes meat. Of course.

But that still doesn’t narrow things down much at O’Rourke’s.

Unfortunately, my waitress wasn’t much help either.

She said she just likes simple breakfasts – like the oatmeal.

Lady, I know the unemployment rate in this Obama bailout economy is high around here, but you really should think about another line of work.

Then I thought about it. How many times in my life will I find myself in an “Irish” diner?

I’ve got to go with one of the Irish breakfast items.

But which one? There were at least half a dozen by my count.

Now, I know what you are thinking.

You’re thinking, “Suit757, you just got done explaining in such eloquent terms that Irish food sucks.”

Well, my dear Suits in Strange Places reader, you are right.

But there is one very important exception.

Irish breakfast.

Ah yes. The most important meal of the day is the only meal you ever want to eat if you find yourself on the Emerald Isle.

Eggs. Tomato. Blood sausage. Brown soda bread. Baked beans. And Irish bacon as thick and succulent as good country ham.

Mmmm. I could eat an Irish breakfast for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Forget Molly Malone’s cockles and mussels, just give me some more of that sturdy Irish bacon!

Now granted, real Irishmen probably don’t eat a full Irish breakfast any more frequently than Southerners like me eat sugar cane syrup-drizzled pecan waffles and sausage gravy-smothered chicken fried steak.

Delicious, but even Suit757’s stout arteries can’t handle that EVERY morning.

So even for a true Irishman, an Irish breakfast is for special occasions.

And I think a visit to O’Rourke’s Irish Diner is just such an occasion.

The Dubliner Omelet I finally settled on was chock full of corned beef hash and melty aged white cheddar cheese.

This is heavenly hash!

Tender and flavorful, the corned beef hash was enveloped in a perfect accompaniment of melted cheese and egg.

The fingerling potato home fries were a wonderful comingling of potato, onion and spice.

But the homemade Irish soda bread topped with a spread of jam may have been the best thing on my plate, hard as that is to admit.

Suit757 isn’t normally a big carb guy. But Brian O’Rourke made me a convert.

First he made a personal appearance boothside to offer some complimentary fresh baked spice muffins.

But the sweet raisin-studded soda bread made me swear off the Atkins Diet for a lifetime. Grilled to a delightful toasty crisp on the outside, yet still moist as your grandmother’s pound cake on the inside, the Irish soda bread was breakfast dessert.

The only mild disappointment was the Irish bacon laid atop my omelet. Not anywhere near as thick, hearty and succulent as the real Irish bacon I’ve enjoyed in the motherland, this more closely resembled a poor man’s version of Canadian bacon.

The prices here are a bit steep too.

But nobody comes to a gourmet Irish diner like O’Rourke’s for a cheap meal. You come for a taste bud extravaganza.

And I’m happy to say, Brian O’Rourke delivers.

Not bad. For an Irishman.

Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.

O'Rourke's Diner on Urbanspoon

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