Oh boy - wait, make that O'boy - another questionably holy St. Patty's Day approaches! And with it, the fragrant rush of spilled beer merrily trickling down; jaws weaving with corned-beefed teeth; sticky and outrageously jammed bars; and most memorably, your suddenly damp-trousered legs and lap. Try over-explaining that "It's not what you think" wet look to any familiar faces you might see that day.
But O'baby, who doesn't love shoving their way through an impenetrable sea of green that's teetering out of control and singing en masse and off-key the wrong words to a pretend Irish song? And to think all of this is done in the interest of enjoying a pre-poured and thus flat Irish stout with a previously fried and thus soggy plate of fish and chips.
That's precisely why this year, for your St. Patty's Day fix, I'm dissuading you from abusing yourself in that cliche and stupifying way and suggesting you visit a less-obviously Irish outpost (thus less gimmicky and potentially less brimming over with revelers). In other words, avoid anything starting with M or O. Besides, aren't all bars Irish on March 17 anyway?
While I can't vouch for the crowd at King Avenue Five in advance (it's liable to be a little wild too), I can recommend its good fish and chips to go with a Guinness on tap.
King Five is a nice sports bar, with real character and plenty of neighborhoody regulars. In fact, it's so agreeable I don't even begrudge it being a Steelers bar during those pertinent months.
And King's food definitely scores above and beyond the usual sports-pub-grub. Like with its fish and chips ($11), which is freaking huge!
You get two thin and crispy lightly battered long planks of juicy, clean-tasting fish that arrive relatively ungreasy. Along for the ride is a whole mess of what people from Northeastern Ohio lovingly call "jo-jo potatoes" - biggie wedges of battered. crackly and highly seasoned french fries. Cutting the richness a bit is a vinegary and oniony slaw, made with crunchy strands of fresh white cabbage and absolutely no mayo.
As you get your Irish up and polish off that mammoth brown and white platter with your second - or fifth - creamy Guinness, I doubt you'll miss having "O Danny Boy" shouted into your ears for the fiftieth time that day.