After several friends telling me I needed to try this place, I finally ventured over to The Plaza District to Saints, an Irish restaurant and bar. Being an Irish lass myself and a fan of traditional Irish fare, what I liked most about Saints was that it ISN’T like every other campy Irish pub with the usual fish and chips or corned beef and cabbage…they are calling themselves a restaurant and I think that’s perfect because this food isn’t pub food at all.
I went in thinking that this place would have shamrocks on the menu and perhaps a harp hanging from the ceiling, maybe even loud Celtic music blaring …but what I found was a clean, industrial style, comfortable environment with not even a leprechaun on the wall – not to mention we sat down to Smashing Pumpkins playing overhead. I knew that the focus was going to be on the food and not the stereotype. We were greeted by very friendly waitstaff and were only one of four occupied tables on a Saturday at lunch. You know how much I love a dining experience that isn’t crowded.
When presented with the menu I was happy to see that it was one page, front and back, with a separate drink menu. The thing a lot of people don’t get about Irish food, that Saints does get, is that it’s not the battered and fried fish or the potato-heavy plates that most pubs serve to the drunk tummies of their patrons – Irish food is actually very healthy, deliciously simple, strong in flavor and compliments the resources available to Ireland. Irish food is of course about potatoes, but also about leafy greens, vegetables, lamb stews and soups, fish and beef. And please don’t forget the bangers and rashers. We Irish loooooove our pork.
Saints’ menu had a perfect representation of all the items I would look for in TRUE traditional plates and even had the options for “Small Plates” or “Big Plates”. Within the small options there were a few that caught my eye – the stuffed white fish which is baked white fish stuffed with seasoned bread crumbs and wrapped with rashers, or to you Yanks, Irish style bacon. Also within the small plates are smoked salmon potato cakes, rashers and hash as well as lamb pie. On the big plates side, which you know is where this girl made her choice, were baked fish and chips, hickory smoked beef tenderloin with horseradish aioli, smoked salmon salad, a mustard chicken sandwich, a meatloaf sandwich (made of a mixture of lamb, pork and beef) as well as a vegetarian sandwich called “the clover”. I chose the sandwich as suggested by our waitress and the Hubs picked the banger dogs.
But wait! There’s more! I didn’t even mention the amazing drink menu! A very impressive whiskey selection – what is an Irishman without his whiskey? – a wide choice of spirits and thankfully some local brews like COOP DNR and Red Bud Ale.
The food comes out and looks wonderful…my sandwich is small but just the right size for me. It is served on batard, which is similar to baguette, with avocado, roasted gold potato (yes, potato on a sandwich), tomato, clover sprouts, topped with a horseradish aioli and served with a side of fingerling potatoes. The batard had a very crunchy buttery crust, just the right amount of chewy, and a soft center. The horseradish aioli was a great flavor match to the gold potato mixed with the avocado, cucumber and clover sprouts. The fingerling potatoes, which kind of served as the “high class fries”, were tender, seasoned and lightly coated in what I think was olive oil. I really liked the idea of these potatoes instead of the usual greasy pub fries. I was in love with this sandwich and didn’t even miss the lamb or the pork I felt Irish guilt for not ordering….until I tasted the banger dogs.
The banger dogs are made of Irish sausage (totally different flavor from any sausage usually found in the states) on a bun topped with sweet pickled relish and stone ground mustard. These little dogs were perfection – and probably the best bangers I’ve had since being in the motherland. I would have liked to trade the Hubs half a sandwich for one of his dogs, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen since all he was saying between bites was, “ohmygod this is amazing…”. He was right – the seasoning of the meat was spot on and the slight vinegar and pickled crispiness of the relish’s purple cabbage meshed so well with the mustard. Holding it all together was a soft on the outside/toasted on the inside bun that must have been placed on the same grill the bangers were cooked on. Saints got it right on the money – these bangers were amazing.
Basking in the afterglow of our meal we made plans to return again very soon with friends we know would love this place as much as we did. Saints not only has food that makes my wee Irish toes curl, but the environment is inviting and the staff’s friendliness makes you want to stay for many pints and many laughs. It’s a great place to find delicious traditional food, good drinks and great times with friends. May the road rise to meet you and may it take you directly to Saints. Slainte!
Saints – 1715 NW 16th – OKC, 405.602.6308
**All photos taken with my iPhone and edited in Instagr.am**