Grub Scout: Flaherty's Irish Pub delivers Emerald Isle flavors to Blount County

A plate of Irish food from Flaherty's Irish Pub

A plate of Irish food from Flaherty's Irish Pub

Flaherty's Irish Pub

Maryville

1720 W. Broadway Ave.

865-724-1300

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There’s a restaurant space in Maryville that most recently was home to a Roaming Gnome, although that underwhelming pub went bye-bye a few months back. Now, there’s a new eating-drinking establishment in place that, in my opinion, looks much more promising.

Flaherty’s Irish Pub, on West Broadway, may very well be Blount County’s answer to Knoxville’s own Irish Times and Boyd’s Jig & Reel. Even the building’s exterior has received a makeover, as The Grub Spouse and I noticed when we pulled up the other night. The reddish molded-wood and gray stone faade suggests Emerald Isle watering hole from the get-go.

Inside, the visual impact is even more striking. Gone are the Gnome’s generic neon-bar aesthetics, and in its place are walls of rich, burnished, molded wood and turn-of-the-century-style furnishings, fixtures and decor, all of which feel pleasantly misplaced in our American culture. The newness of everything, not to mention the handful of flat-screen TVs on the wall, temper the visual authenticity a tad, but overall, the setting is a fine one.

The menu likewise offers up a cornucopia of authentic Irish cuisine and even a few traditional Yankee items. For example, you’ll find familiar appetizers like wings, dips and crab cakes, but The Spouse and I had to try the corned beef bites — a panko-crusted mixture of corned beef, Swiss cheese, cream cheese and sauerkraut that’s deep fried and served with spicy mustard. The three large orbs were absolutely delish.

You’ll find several selections of Irish-influenced soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and steaks, but we focused most of our attention on the most distinctively Irish entrees. Contenders included oven-roasted crackling whiskey chicken and several kinds of boxty (a sandwich wrap made from a blend of mashed and shredded potatoes and stuffed with savory fillings).

One dish called doolin-stuffed trout almost had me reeled in with its promise of crab-stuffed fish topped in a white wine cream sauce. You’ll also find traditional bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, and a full Irish breakfast on the menu.

We ordered two other Irish staples — the Guinness-braised steak and mushroom pie (a variation on Flaherty’s basic shepherd’s pie) and the fish and chips. The pie was served in a small souffle-style dish and featured a mixture of piping-hot meat and veggies topped by a baked dough crust. The flavor was right on track, but the crust was hard to cut, even with a knife, and I was disappointed in the amount of beef included in the pie.

The fried, beer-batter-dipped cod fillets were very good — fresh and quite tasty, whether enjoyed on their own or with the accompanying tartar sauce and malt vinegar. We finished our meal by sharing a slice of cheesecake topped with Bailey’s Irish whipped cream. It was yummy as well, although we learned that Flaherty’s desserts are not homemade.

The intimate feel of Flaherty’s makes it a good choice for a cozy dinner out with a loved one or friends, and the bar offers a full selection of alcohol, including several Irish whiskeys and European ales by the bottle or on tap. There’s even a little stage in one corner for live Irish-music entertainment on weekends.

So may Alcoa Highway rise up to meet you and the wind be at your back when you head into Blount County to experience Flaherty’s Irish Pub. I wish them luck.

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Flaherty’s Irish Pub

Food: 4 stars (out of five)

Service: 4

Atmosphere: 4

Overall: 4

Address: 1720 W. Broadway Ave., Maryville

Phone: 865-724-1300

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays

Full bar service

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Bottom Line: This new Blount County eatery serves up an authentic Irish pub experience thanks to native cuisine and signature Emerald-Isle libations.

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