Irish hospitality in the heart of Panama City
“Everyone needs an Irish pub,” is the explanation that Allan O’Connell gives for why he opened The Blarney Stone in the heart of Panama City to much fanfare last week. O’Connell points out that Irish pubs can be found in most major cities in the world and sees no reason why not only expats but visitors and Panamanians alike will welcome this latest symbol of Irish hospitality and congeniality. As proof, O’Connell mentions that he previously ran an Irish pub in Stockholm, Sweden.
A true Irishman, O’Connell played the Gaelic sport of hurling as a lad and proudly displays his jersey in a case as part of the pub’s ambiance. That also explains why the logo of the establishment consists of a pair of crossed hurling bats with an Irish harp above and a shamrock below. You cannot get much more Irish than that.
Located in Bella Vista on Calle 47 Este between Calle Uruguay and Federico Boyd, the pub is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. for food and even later for those who enjoy the Irish tradition of beers with friends.
The secret to success of The Blarney Stone might just be the food. Pub food is not always known as the best. However, the chef and O’Connell’s partner is none other than Mikie Thompson, the master behind the very popular Fish Market on Central Avenue in Casco Antiguo across from the Lottery Building. Not to be confused with the municipal Fish Market on Balboa, Mikie’s place is well known for very tasty and affordable informal food, including what many believe is the best fish sandwich in the city.
Under Thompson’s expert supervision, the classic beer-battered fish-and-chips at the Blarney Stone are certain to be popular. Other traditional meals include Shepherd’s pie and homemade Irish sausage and mash (creamy potatoes with onion gravy). To keep with the international theme, diners can choose chicken masala curry or grilled Vietnamese skirt steak. The tradition continues with a Scotch egg with Dijon mustard for an appetizer and such soups as onion with cheesy croutons and Dublin Bay seafood chowder. For sandwich lovers there’s both the Blarney burger with all the fixings and a lamb burger with tzatziki. There’s also a steak and onion sandwich and a breaded fish sandwich with tartar that should not be missed with Thompson in the kitchen.
Some may recall the myth of the Blarney Stone where it is believed that if one kisses the limestone block on the battlements of Blarney Castle near Cork in Ireland then that person will gain the gift of gab. Whether you believe that or not, word of mouth should soon make the Blarney Stone the new in place for informal but high quality dining.