When we walked in, we were greeted by a sign telling us that we would have to present our IDs, possibly multiple times, as this was an over-21 establishment. Crap. Bet it smells like smoke in there….well, it wasn’t too bad, but when Marcus, who was tending bar (and who happens to be my brother’s roommate) greeted us, he pointed out the nonsmoking section, which is separated from the smoking section by glass doors. Yea! Separate but equal. Sometimes it can be positive. The smoking section is much, much larger than nonsmoking, but hey, technically it’s a pub, or a bar, or whatever you want to call it. I’m not offended. The decor in this place is just great. I think a lot of it is left over from the previous establishment, Parkway Billiards, but they have definitely added their own flair.
The server, Juliana, quickly greeted us and pointed out their Saturday and Sunday specials menu, which included a selection of Bloody Marys, several cocktails, and some special entrees (I’ll get to those in a moment) as well as a beer menu (extensive, as would be expected, and their beer focus is on Irish beers and American craft beers, although I assure you that there are beers for the Bud lover too), plus the regular food menu, which contains several traditional Irish dishes with an Honest Pint twist (“herder’s” pie, colcannon, boxty), as well as the things you would expect in any restaurant (sandwiches, salads, etc.) but nothing that was just average. Everything has a twist! They describe their style as a “fusion of American and Irish cooking that will both surprise and impress you.” The entrees on the specials menu included corned beef hash, which meant that there was no choice involved for Philip, a quiche whose name I can’t put my finger on, but that contained pimento cheese (yowza!) and came with a side of breakfast potatoes and bacon jam (more on that later), crepes filled with chicken in an apricot mustard sauce, and an “Honest Happy Meal”, which was corned beef hash, a 20 oz. Guinness, and a toy. I got a good laugh out of that. As much as the quiche appealed, my brother (who is a regular) had recommended the BELT sandwich (which I heard the server call a belt, not a B-E-L-T). Since we had $30 to spend, we also decided to get pommes tots, tater tots fried in duck fat and served with curry ketchup, smoked aioli, and sriracha mayo.
That turned out to be a fantastic decision. I can’t even describe to you how good these things are. I am not a fan of duck as a meat, but duck fat is a wonderful deep-frying medium. So good. So very, very good. The sriracha mayo had a good flavor but was a little spicy for my wimpy tastebuds. The smoked aioli was delicious, and the curry ketchup….well, there are no words. Philip and I were both speechless. It was amazing, and we will be attempting to duplicate that flavor at home. I asked the server, who confirmed that the sauces were, indeed, house made. Score.
One thing that you should know about Philip is that he truly, truly loves corned beef, and loving corned beef hash is a natural extension of that. I make it once a year, as corned beef is expensive and it generally only goes on sale at St. Patrick’s Day. The hash at The Honest Pint consists of shredded corned beef, cubed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese. Philip died and went to heaven. He was so happy, in fact, that he tried to convince the chef, Philippe, to come out and accept a hug as a token of Philip’s appreciation, but no dice. He even made a remark to Marcus on the way out somewhere along the lines of “it was the best he’d had,” to which, I, of course bristled. He contended that it was “different” from mine. Perhaps because I leave out the cheese? Or I top mine with a fried egg? Oh well. You win some, you lose some.
The menu description of the BELT sandwich asserts that “the BLT is the BELT’s girlfriend.” Hahahahahahahaha. The BELT is a standard BLT made with applewood smoked bacon, with the addition of an over-medium fried egg and sriracha mayo, on a pretzel bun (rye is also an option). Again, I ordered this on my brother’s recommendation and also followed his advice and subbed rashers (Irish bacon, which is more like Canadian bacon than what we know as bacon) for the applewood. Good choice-although I am sure that the applewood bacon would have been fantastic too. The sandwiches come with house-made chips, but you can sub in tots or smashed potatoes for a small charge. I went with the chips, though, as I’m a sucker for a good homemade chip, and I was not disappointed. By the way, the chips are delicious dipped in the pommes tots sauces! Now, let me say, this was not lowfat food, as evidenced by the grease on my napkin….but I did not go there looking for lowfat food, so no matter. The sriracha mayo was not overpowering in the least. This is just a great sandwich.
The pièce de résistance of our meal, however, came in the form of a tiny little condiment cup of bacon jam, with a spoon, complements of the chef. Maybe it was a consolation prize for not accepting Philip’s hug? If so….we were consoled. Recently, I saw a show on Cooking Channel highlighting food trucks around the country. A burger truck was putting something called bacon jam on its burgers…and also selling it by the jar. On the internet. I almost bought some, but then I looked up the recipe and decided I could make a lot more for a lot less than I’d pay for that jar, so needless to say, when I saw the words bacon jam with the quiche, my heart started beating just a little faster…and I’ll definitely be ordering that quiche if it’s available the next time I go. Bacon jam is a revelation, my friends. Think of the best things about barbecue-the sweet, the smoke, the salt, the spice-then combine those with bacon, and you have bacon jam. I am glad we complimented the chef!
By the way, The Honest Pint is also a music venue, spotlighting local artists. Philip is hoping to line up a show there soon!
This was one of the best restaurant experiences we have had. Ever. The service was great, the atmosphere was great, and the food was beyond great. The prices also made me happy, since only a very few items topped $10, and we had trouble spending $30…our total was $27 and some change. We will definitely go back-many times.
The Honest Pint is located at 35 Patten Parkway, Chattanooga, TN 37402. They can be reached at 423-468-4192. Check out their website and like them on Facebook. And if you go, be sure to tell them that Chattavore sent you-we gotta spread the word!