I went to the James Joyce in Harbor East tonight with my beautiful girlfriend and another couple.  To be honest, it wasn't our first choice.  We went by Oliver Speck's, but they were closed for a private function.  I have a bit of a BBQ tooth, so we'll have to check it out later.  I normally wouldn't choose an Irish pub for dinner, but there aren't too many casual spots in Harbor East.  I know the chef and a few former employees work there, so I like the occasional visit.  Plus, Guinness.  So there's that.

I bumped into a few friends from my days as the chef at Maggie Moore's Irish Pub. That was a nice surprise. One guy is now a liquor rep., pretty high up there, and of course he was trying to sell me booze.  He succeeded.  And the other was my former line cook who is now a bus boy at the Joyce and has been for the last five or six years. 

Being a former chef at an Irish Pub, I am a bit picky about "Irish" food, but the Joyce is pretty consistent.  I had a Reuben with a Caesar salad which didn't disappoint.  The rest of the table enjoyed the beef & Guinness Stew, turkey wrap, and a cheeseburger. 

Now, when I made my beef & Guinness stew, I used veal stock and toasted barley. I actually just resurrected it a few weeks ago for St. Patrick's day and it was pretty delicious.  (Side note: Governor O'Malley used to order it religiously when he came to Maggie Moore's)  Anyone who does it differently is just wrong, plain and simple. I mean, Guinness, barley, come on.   I also used local corned beef and made my own sauerkraut, but their Reuben was good none the less.  Working at the pub was my first Executive Chef job so it brings back a lot of memories, especially because the staff of Maggie's and the Joyce were pretty close.  Some memories are better than others. Working across the street from a theater was a nightmare but professionally I learned a lot.

I really can't complain about the meal, but the company and the Guinness were the highlights.