The idea behind this series is fairly simple: My girlfriend and I will go out to eat at a Chattanooga-area restaurant and then describe our dining experience there. Keep in mind that this is not a food review per se, but instead an attempt to relate to readers our single, one-time experience at a restaurant. It just is what it is, as they say. There will also be pictures. Lots of pictures.
Where: 35 Patten Parkway
Hours: 11-2 a.m.
Third annual St. Patrick's Day Bash: Sunday, March 17, 2 p.m.-?, featuring live music and food, and drink specials. Admission is $5.
For more information: Click here
The girlfriend is a mid-20’s “fairly picky eater” (her words, not mine) and a complete lightweight when it comes to alcohol. She is unable to tolerate anything with heat and will typically order the simplest of simple from a restaurant’s menu. I am in my late 20s and basically the complete opposite. If you put food in front of me, I will eat it, and the same goes with drinks. There could be moving animal limbs on my plate, and I’d still stab it and eat it. My enjoyment of a meal is directly related to how terrifying it is to consume. At restaurants, I will usually ask the server to suggest something to consume. Other than that, we’re just normal folks.
As a couple who prefers to cuddle and watch television on the “drinking” holidays, we thought it might be a good idea to get our Irish/St. Patty’s fill a little early. The Honest Pint has been a local hangout for many of my cigar smoking buddies of late. Formerly Chattanooga’s dingy “other pool hall,” the building is now a lively place to spend an evening. Beer, whiskey, darts, billiards, live music, great food (both Irish and American fare) and excellent service are all offered at The Honest Pint.
Kristin, our blue-haired/tattooed server, was excellent. She was able to joke around with us and patiently answered my dumb questions about the menu. Her service was prompt, and we never felt like she wasn’t just around the corner if we needed anything. We started our dinner early—5:30 p.m.—on a Wednesday. The restaurant was busy but not too crowded. We were able to sit in the nonsmoking section, and everything we ordered was delivered faster than expected. I can’t speak to the effect a huge crowd of people would have on the service, but if our experience was any indication, the folks at The Honest Pint are consummate professionals. Let’s do this.
My girlfriend opted for water the first go-around, and I wanted to try a signature “mixed draft”—a combination of beers/cider. I opted for the Blacksmith, which is a combination of Guinness and Smithwick’s Ale. It was smooth and delicious, but I wish I would’ve tried something a little more exciting. The girlfriend said her water was “cold” and “refreshing.”
The tater tots are the first thing anyone ever brings up about The Honest Pint. They are fried in duck fat and served with three dipping sauces: smoked aioli, curried catsup and Sriracha mayo. Kristen said she preferred the smoked aioli. However, the curried catsup was my favorite out of the three. My girlfriend agreed. I thought the Sriracha mayo was a little too heavy on the mayo, and my girlfriend thought it was too hot to consume. Who knows? The tots were served English-style in a paper cone. They were devoured almost instantly. So delicious.
My girlfriend, the conservative eater, opted for the "half-pint" burger. The burger is 8 ounces of beef (or half a pint ... get it?) with your typical toppings. The burger came with a side of homemade chips that she was unable to eat because she overloaded on tots. This is the epitome of a first-world problem. She described the burger as “good.” The beef was seasoned nicely, and her meat was cooked to order. This was not an orgasm-inducing hamburger, but she enjoyed it nevertheless. I let Kristen suggest me something after I told her I “wanted something traditionally Irish.” She suggested the herder pie, which is the pub’s version of the traditional shepherd's pie: “leg of lamb, onions, carrots and celery in a rich mustard red wine stew topped with our smashed potatoes and Irish cheddar.” I got the “small” portion, which ended up being twice the amount of food I needed. Oh, well. Leftovers! I also ordered a side of haricot verts—seasoned green beans that are barely cooked and then shocked in cold water. The pie was exactly the Irish comfort food I was hoping it would be. The chilled green beans were a nice complement to the savory pie. Chattanooga’s selection for quality Irish food is slim, to say the least. I’m glad The Honest Pint is here to help fill the void.
We loosened our belts and decided that it would probably be a good idea to let our food settle and have another drink. This was my girlfriend’s suggestion and one of many reasons why I love her. In celebration of yet another hurdle crossed, I ordered a Chattanooga Whiskey Old-Fashioned. Kristen suggested my girlfriend try the Pint Punch, their riff on a Long Island Iced Tea. Coincidentally, both our drinks were pink in color. I always confuse an Old-Fashioned with a more whiskey-heavy Manhattan. I’ll figure it out one day. Both drinks were excellent. My girlfriend said of her drink: “I’m drinking this like it’s water, and it is NOT water!” I distinctly remember Parkway Billiards having a Parkway Punch that you could say the same thing about. Fortunately, she only had one, and unlike my experiences in college with the latter punch, she didn’t end up sleeping outside in some hedges with somebody else’s shirt on. True story.
Irish mint cheesecake was the specialty, and we ordered a single slice with two forks. The cheesecake was delicious (what cheesecake isn’t?), but the real flavor-maker was the icing: sugar and mint flavoring drizzled on top. The icing tasted almost like the center of an Andes mint, more of a crème de menthe than an “Irish” mint. This dessert was so rich that I still have half of the slice in the refrigerator. It’s worth ordering, but split it with a friend ... or four.
Would we go back?
Absolutely. The Honest Pint has become a place that mixes the best of all of my worlds: smoking, live music, great people and good food. Our date was a huge success.
Updated @ 5:12 p.m. on 3/14/13 to correct a typographical error.