I’d already had my Irish breakfast and ploughman’s lunch, when I set out to eat a third archetypal Irish meal. That would be corned beef and cabbage, but finding it was harder than you’d think — even on this sainted holiday, which commemorates the fifth-century patron saint of the Emerald Isle.
Though corned beef and cabbage is a quintessential Irish-American dish, most of the Irish pubs in town have menus that are more modern, showcasing contemporary Irish pub fare such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips, as well as American bar food like Buffalo wings, hamburgers, and deep-fried mozzarella sticks. To find my corned beef and cabbage, I had to seek out an Irish pub that dates roughly to the era when the dish was created in the US in the early 1900s.
That place turned out to be Peter McManus, a timeworn, but still wildly popular, Irish pub in Chelsea dating to 1911. Under the Irish food section of the menu, corned beef and cabbage is prominently featured, along with shepherd’s pie and, somewhat erroneously, a Reuben sandwich.
The dish was spectacular! And, at $16.95, it was easily enough for two to share. A giant wad of corned beef — it must have been nearly a pound —took up one side of the long plate, with three potatoes, a quarter cabbage, and thick hunk of Irish soda bread and butter on the other. The potatoes were briny from boiling with the salty cured meat, the cabbage rendered sweet and juicy. And the corned beef itself was fork tender and still miraculously fatty.