A co-worker and I picked two glorious spring days to try O'Reilly's Irish Bar, which opened a couple months ago in the Harrison Building. Both days, the sun was out and the air was warm, so we sat on the patio that overlooks Parkview Field, where the TinCaps play baseball.
The first day when we stopped in for lunch there wasn't a game, so it was quiet and peaceful. I enjoyed watching walkers strolling around the concourse.
The second time we went for lunch, the bats were swinging and the stadium was packed with lots of school kids on field trips. It was loud — O'Reilly's might want to turn off its outdoor speakers blasting music during games. There were many more people sitting out on the patio this time, and service was much better than our first visit.
Also, O'Reilly's had put patio umbrellas up at some tables. Even on a mild spring day, we appreciated the shade.
As I said, the service was much better on the second visit. The first time, after sitting for several minutes as if we were invisible, my companion finally called over a server, who apologized and gave us a free appetizer for having to wait.
We selected fried pickles — dill spears coated with a somewhat greasy breading, served with ranch dressing. We had a problem. The pickles were scorching hot inside, as in, burn-your-mouth-and-lips hot. I reached for a knife to cut them in two so they could cool off enough to eat them, and discovered we didn't have any silverware. We had greasy fingers, also, and no napkin to wipe our hands on.
Things could only go up from there, and they did. Our server brought us silverware and cloth napkins that wouldn't blow away as paper ones would.
O'Reilly's has a lunch menu available until 4 p.m., so my friend ordered the Harvest Grill lunch salad, which she said was delicious. Fresh greens were topped with grilled chicken, apple slices, bacon, roasted red peppers, smoked Gouda cheese and a barbecue blue cheese dressing.
Her only complaint was that the small salad plate it was served on made it difficult to eat without pieces of her salad falling off onto the table. A bowl or larger plate would be nice.
I ordered an O'Reilly's club sandwich, which was different than what I had expected, but in a good way. Two thick slices of toasted, hearty wheat bread barely contained a stack of ham, turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
The good bread and the generous amount of meat made this an above-average club. My only complaint was that it was so big it was hard to eat, and hard to hold together.
For my side, I chose seasonal steamed vegetables, which on that day were zucchini and squash. They were served in a separate bowl and were swimming in a lot of liquid. Meh.
O'Reilly's does serve Irish food and drinks, but I had to go back to work, so I didn't get to enjoy any Irish whiskey. We did, however, save room for O'Reilly's homemade bread pudding with whiskey sauce, only to be bitterly disappointed to learn it wouldn't be ready for another hour.
Thanks to a mistake on my part, however, we got to go back and do it all over again. I accidentally deleted all of my photos from the first visit, so we went back on a game day.
If you're thinking you can watch the game for free from O'Reilly's patio, it's not exactly true. There's no extra charge to sit out there, but you certainly won't have an unobstructed view of the field, which is at a lower elevation than the patio — not to mention there are people between you and the field.
Still, it's a fun atmosphere and you can get a partial view of the field, plus keep track of the score on the big scoreboard (and by the cheers from the crowd).
On this visit, my companion ordered the club sandwich I had previously, and I ordered a Greek flat bread pizza, with grilled chicken, spinach, black olives, tomatoes, feta cheese and herb sauce. I had no complaints except the large chunks of grilled chicken tended to roll off the slices when I'd try to take a bite. Not a problem, really; I just ate what was left on the plate with a fork.
We lucked out this time with the bread pudding, which seemed to have bits of cooked apple in it and a decadent whiskey sauce. Great way to top off a meal.
Service was much better on our second visit, but the weather wasn't. Out of seemingly nowhere, it started raining, a wind kicked up and a patio umbrella toppled over. We scurried inside to hunt down our server and pay. One word of warning: When it's very bright outside and you step into the dark interior, it can take your eyes some time to adjust — and there are stairs there, so be aware.
My only other complaint about O'Reilly's, and it's minor, is that they need to let people know where to park. There's a small lot just east of O'Reilly's where you can park for free, but it's not marked. Otherwise, you can park at a metered spot on Ewing or Harrison streets. Meters are free after 5 p.m. weekdays and on weekends.
Or, if you live or work nearby, there's an even better option: walk.
Every other Tuesday, Cindy Larson describes a one-time dining experience at an area restaurant. The News-Sentinel pays for meals. This column is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinion of The News-Sentinel. You can reach her at 461-8284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read other columns, go to www.news-sentinel.com/section/LARSON.