The world is starting to open up now that people are getting the vaccine. So Rooster and I have taken a couple of adventures. We recently exited stage right from the world of work and stepped into retirement. COVID has made blogging about adventures a difficult endeavor. Most of our favorite restaurants closed. Many of them will never reopen again. So one-afternoon last week, Rooster suggested we pay a visit to South Bend, Indiana. If you are unfamiliar with this city, Notre Dame University is the home of the Fighting Irish. Thus started our first stop on the tale of two Irish Pubs.
Irish Americans hold onto their heritage. Their family may have left the emerald isle in the 1700s, but they will still identify themselves as Irish. America is the world’s great melting pot. Still, Irish immigrants will cling to the motherland no matter how many other nationalities make up their DNA. This odd holding onto a heritage from across the ocean exists in my mother’s people. It is one of the main reasons Rooster and I enjoy visiting Irish pubs.
The Fiddler’s Hearth the first stop on A Tale of Two Irish Pubs
The last time we enjoyed a meal at the Fiddler’s Hearth occurred over a year ago. We stumbled across this treasure by accident one afternoon while visiting the city of South Bend. Rooster and I first noticed the mural painted on the north wall. I ordered the fish and chips like I do whenever we visit an Irish Pub. I knew I was in the right place when they brought my meal wrapped in the morning paper. Rooster suggested we make a return trip now that COVID restrictions are lifted in the state. We wanted to see if the restaurant changed during the lockdown.
Rooster told his phone to give us directions to 127 N. Main Street, South Bend, Indiana. It always freaks me out a bit when he has conversations with his phone. Sometimes, I find it downright irritating. But, it doesn’t matter much as long as we get there. The restaurant reopened its inside dining.
Our Experience at Fiddler’s Hearth
The hostess seated us at a table near the bar. We had the perfect spot to soak up the Celtic atmosphere, and the décor had a definite Irish flavor. We ordered our food. Rooster played it safe with a salad. There is a long list of foods he can’t eat due to a stomach condition. I ordered the classic fish and chips. I have to admit I was a little surprised when they brought it to me wrapped in the morning paper because I thought they might have suspended the practice due to COVID, but it pleased me they still kept the tradition.
I noticed the service was slow due to not having their full workforce in place during the reopening. The cost also escalated. Restaurants are paying their servers more to entice them back to the job. Overall, Rooster and I enjoyed our post-COVID Fiddler’s Hearth experience.
Nine Irish Brothers Second stop on A Tale of Two Irish Pubs
Once upon a time, the O’Bryan family immigrated from Ireland to escape the potato famine. The O” Bryan’s settled near Lafayette, Indiana. The following generation became fruit full and multiplied and added fourteen children to the earth’s population. Finally, the youngest son decided to open a pub. He called it Nine Irish brothers to honor his heritage. There is also a slight mention of the five sisters, but it is mostly done as an afterthought.
Rooster and I spent many good times at O’Bryan’s Nine Irish Brothers before they closed for the pandemic. It is one of our favorite motorcycle ride destinations. So we decided to see if things have changed since the reopening. Rooster told his phone to take us to 119 Howard Ave. West Lafayette.
Our Experience at Nine Irish Brothers
There existed a slight hope they would have a live Irish band playing when we got there, but we were too early to enjoy the music. The servers wore kilts. It makes my heart race when I see a guy in a skirt. That takes a certain amount of courage here in Indiana.
We sat outside because we wanted to enjoy the warm, sunny afternoon. Rooster and I both ordered the Shepherd’s Pie. The atmosphere spoke of all things Irish, with décor done pub-style chic. I enjoyed the Shepherd’s Pie, even though I normally order the fish and chips. (This restaurant has some of the best fish and chips in the state. Unfortunately, they don’t serve it wrapped in newspaper.) It reminded me of a dish my Mama used to make. The cost hadn’t elevated in the current labor shortage. They must not have had a turnover in staff because the service was fantastic.
The conclusion of A Tale of Two Irish Pubs
The world is entering into the first phase of the New Normal. I’m being shoved there, kicking and screaming. Rooster and I are attempting to recapture our spirit of adventure. The brilliant idea to visit these two Irish Pubs is a first step to living normal lives. I like this pub idea Rooster came up with during one of his brilliant lightbulb moments. We might pay a visit to other pubs in our state to see if we can experience more of what life used to be like before we all started living in fear.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!
12 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Irish Pubs”
I am a huge fan of pubs and these both look so lovely. restaurants here have also said that food costs have soared and they’ve had to raise prices. I’m still happy they are beginning to open again
If I ever get to that part of the country, I will have to stop in. Looks wonderful.
I live out in the boonies, Molly, so my eating-out options are limited. What fun to join you at two Irish pubs. I can imagine that its going to take time for restaurant operations to settle in and smooth out now that things are opening again. I’m certain they appreciate your business!
It’s been SOOO long since I’ve been to a pub! Your experiences remind me of the good old pre-COVID days. (India is still in lockdown)
“It makes my heart race when I see a guy in a skirt. That takes a certain amount of courage here in Indiana.” – I was wondering why? I must confess that I don’t know much about Indiana!
There are a great deal of people here in Indiana who are still homophobic. Any guy wearing a skirt even for cultural purposes wouldbecome a target.
It’s been a while since I was in The Fiddlers Hearth, living in South Bend from 1994 to 2006. It wasn’t somewhere I frequented a lot, but definitely a good Irish/Celtic atmosphere and some good live music.
We like it for the Celtic atmosphere.
you can’t beat a good meal of fish ‘n’ chips especially if wrapped in newspaper; I have a fish meal once a week — usually Atlantic Salmon or Flathead —- from ‘The Stunned Mullet’ 🙂
I spent too many years in Irish pubs in NYC in my youth, I fear. I never was much of a drinker, but (at the time) found the fresh faces of Irish immigrant boys quite the draw, not to mention the smoked salmon flown in from Ireland, served on Brown Bread, with Irish butter, capers and red onion a delight. This brought back some of my own memories, though I’ve never visited the middle of the country much, or the Notre Dame area. What you say is so true about us. We cling to our heritage, no matter how watered down our dna is. The traditions get passed down through the generations and we remain connected to the land, the people. I now live on another island (Maui) and maybe my Cuban-Irish roots draw me to islands/island life. Still….I envy your land locked existence, the ability to be retired and drive this place or that, to your heart’s content…I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, dreaming of my return to civilization. Anywhoo, good review and nice homage to the before times, or is it a foreshadowing of the future times, when we return to normal, or some modicum thereof….
I believe it is a forshadowing of future times. Here in the mid-west we ar living life like we used to live it before COVID struck.
Oh my, I do envy you.
I love Irish folk! There are many Irish pubs here on the Costa Blanca in Spain and we like to enjoy a meal at them from time to time. It doesn’t matter where in the world they go, the Irish bring their pubs with them. So pleased you are able to get out and about again.