Managers and Authentic Food Make Claddagh Irish Pub a Flavorful Choice

Irish managers and authentic food work together for a hallmark craic.
Claddagh staff Daragh Quinlan and Elaine (Monaghan) French with traditional shepherd’s pie and a Guinness.

Claddagh Irish Pub has been an anchor in Maple Grove since 2002, and now it’s more Irish than ever with three managers from Ireland. All three hopped the pond specifically to work at Claddagh.

General manager Victor Claffey, from Moate, County Westmeath, is a culinary school graduate. He has run a number of hotels and a Mediterranean-style Irish fusion restaurant. Some of Claddagh’s current menu offerings are influenced by his experiences.

Claffey loves sitting down to talk with patrons. If you’re planning a trip to Ireland, you could ask him, or any of the Irish managers, for tips for your travel—where to go, how to travel and, especially, what to eat.

Daragh Quinlan (also called DQ) is the bar manager. He spent most of his life in Galway, County Galway, although he’s originally from County Kerry. His experience was gleaned working behind the bar at many popular hangouts.

“He brings his Irish charm to this corner of Maple Grove,” says manager Elaine (Monaghan) Cloutier. With Claddagh since 2011, she serves as the event coordinator, organizing parties and events.

Two non-Irish employees are also part of the team: Midori Ohman, front of house manager, and chef Zach Brown. This mix of Irish and American personalities gives Claddagh its unique and fun atmosphere.

The Food

Americans eat corned beef and cabbage, especially on St. Patrick’s Day. What we don’t realize is that this is an immigrant dish. The original dish from Ireland includes bacon and cabbage, but immigrants were too poor to buy pork. Beef was cheaper. Claddagh serves both dishes.

The original bacon and cabbage dish uses either ham or pork loin shoulder. The bacon Claddagh uses has a saltwater-based brine and is served with a parsley cream sauce. The corned beef and cabbage is served with a beef brisket.

Shepherd’s pie has roots in both England and Ireland. It was originally made from leftovers, such as ground lamb. If it didn’t have lamb, it was called cottage pie. Claddagh uses half ground beef and half ground lamb for its pie, since lamb has a strong flavor that many Americans are not accustomed to. The pie also contains gravy, peas and onions.

An Irish breakfast is protein-rich since it was used to feed farmers and workers. Now it’s served mainly as a special meal. It might include rasher bacon (one thin slice of bacon or ham), pork sausages, fried eggs, grilled mushrooms, baked beans, and black or white pudding (similar to blood sausage), served with toast and tea. American food is also served. Several variations on macaroni and cheese, burgers, pasta and chicken are some of the hometown options.

Maggie Kelly, a Maple Grove resident with Irish heritage, says, “My favorite is fish and chips. First class. I always overeat. I tell myself I’m not going to do that, but I always do. They have the best clam chowder. It has big chunks of clam, not those itty bitty pieces. The service is good. Our family goes when we need a meeting. We can choose either a public or a private space.”

If there is one thing (well, two things) that Claffey, Quinlan and Cloutier want to let everyone know, it’s that “You don’t have to eat corned beef and cabbage,” and “We’re not just for St. Patrick’s Day.” Claddagh is open any day you want their hallmark craic (pronounced “crack”), which is a fun, friendly, exuberant atmosphere.