For Blackthorn Pub, located in the quaint village of Holly, the week of St. Patrick’s Day is the busiest time of the year – and once you’ve tasted their authentic Irish dishes, you’ll understand why! The tasty, Guinness®-battered haddock, served with hand-cut Blackthorn fries and a vinegary, Irish slaw is not only popular on St. Paddy’s Day, but is the year-round top seller at the eatery, which is a hangout for locals and a destination for people all around the area. Another Irish favorite is the hearty Cottage Pie, made with minced beef, root vegetable, peas and fresh herbs, topped with a colcannon and cheddar crust. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish made with mashed potatoes, kale and scallions.
Another St. Patrick’s Day favorite, Blackthorn’s Bangers & Mash is whiskey-ginger pork sausage and colcannon topped with a Guinness and onion gravy. The sausages are made especially for Blackthorn at the Eastern Market in Detroit. And, it just wouldn’t be St. Paddy’s without corned beef & cabbage. “It’s the only time we serve it,” says Head Chef, Eric Vordeburg. The dish is made with Sy Ginsberg corned beef which is braised for eight or nine hours at a super-low temperature, served with purple cabbage and Guinness® Irish Stout gravy.
Pub Owner, Rory Kelly, purchased the building seven years ago, bringing his Irish heritage to the food they serve. Chef Eric brings the culinary experience he gained during five years as sous chef at The Holly Hotel. “I owe them a lot,” the chef says. “I got to be creative there.”
It isn’t just the Irish fare that draws hungry (and thirsty) patrons to Blackthorn Pub. The menu includes avariety of Irish-style bites, like Irish Nachos: house-made, thick-cut potato chips topped with cheddar, bacon, jalapenos, chives and herb sour cream. The menu also includes are a variety of salads, pub burgers and entrees. Steaks are certified Angus, and the meat for the burgers is custom-ground for Blackthorn. “Other than the bread we serve, we’re a 100-percent scratch kitchen,” says Chef Eric. “We hand-cut our fries every morning.”
Chef Eric is proud of the lunch and dinner specials which change every other week. “I have a very eclectic take on food,” he admits. His personal favorite is Shrimp en Papillote (French for “in paper”), which combines jumbo shrimp, braised leeks, fingerling potatoes, Meyer lemon, butter and dill, served with a parsley-caper salad. Another popular dish is the Eggplant Parmesan, made with Japanese eggplant, smoked mozzarella, tomato vodka, and panzanella – an Italian bread salad with marinated artichoke and red pepper.
Every pub serves sandwiches – popular at Blackthorn is the Beef on Weck: shaved, roasted rib eye steak piled on a caraway seed and salt-topped kimmelweck roll, with horseradish and herb au jus. “We’re not the average pub,” Chef Eric says. “We even have escargot on the menu!” The bacon-wrapped snails are cooked with fennel, shallots, garlic, demi-glace and cognac. “I like to describe my food as New American Pub Cuisine – bringing my fine dining background to the neighborhood pub crowd.”
The menu always has two desserts, such as Mayan Chocolate Mousse – a chili-infused, dark chocolate mousse topped with whipped cream and toasted pepitas. Chef Eric says their bread pudding is a customer favorite.
Blackthorn’s delicious food isn’t the only thing that brings in the pub crowd. “Craft beer is huge for us,” Chef Eric says. “We have stuff no one else has.” According to the chef, they have over 100 bottle varieties and a 20-tap handle system. The beer menu changes daily and can be found at untappd.com. Blackthorn also has a tap takeover event every other month.
The Pub also offers a late-night menu, with drink specials and items such as personal, hand-tossed pizza, and “dirty” fries that are “hand-cut and piled with goodness.”
Blackthorn Pub patrons are greeted with a smile by a staff of about 28 employees. “We want our staff to feel like family,” Chef Eric shares. “We have fun and help each other out, just like family.” The staff is looking forward to the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. As is his tradition, Chef Eric will be wearing a kilt the entire day, and invites everyone to “come in and enjoy some traditional Irish fare and much more!”
“We have stuff no one else has.”
Chef Eric Vordeburg
Photography by Jenn Hawk & Provided by Blackthorn Pub