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Cheap Eats: J.P. Fitzgerald's

J.P. Fitzgerald's is a large tavern with a menu to match and a lot of local history, with an Irish flavor, in the decor.

On a Saturday evening, John, Pat, John II and I were shown to a booth right next to a table that held an extended family of possibly 100. Well, not really. Maybe two dozen. But between the booster seats and the high chairs, I was worried that the parents would leave without one of their kids, or pick up an extra one on their hurricanelike swirl out the door after they finished. But as far as I know, all went well -- certainly the food was well-received at that table.

It was well-received at our table, too. We sampled a variety of things, and liked all of them, and were sorry afterward that we hadn't tried a soup. French onion and beef and cheddar were the choices.

The "Irish dip" ($6.25) on the menu was a French dip with an Irish name, as far as we could tell. The roast beef was very tender and the roll both fresh and slightly toasted to add subtle crunch and extra flavor. A small bowl of warm "au jus" made a nice dipping pool.

A second sandwich was called "Fitz's Favorite" ($6.75), and we don't know who Fitz is, but we saw why it was his favorite. It started with two slices of fresh sourdough, layered with siced turkey, bacon, tomato and American cheese and then grilled.

The "Combo 1" ($7.75) was saddled with a pretty plain name but made up for it with its ingredients. A mini beef on weck, five chicken wings and a pile of curly fries filled the plate. The weck got high marks -- we suspected that the tender roast beef was related to that on the Irish dip -- both for tenderness and flavor. Oddly, when the sandwich was lifted vertically for biting, the vast majority of the salt fell right off the top of the roll onto the plate. It was easy enough to dip the roll into the salt and eat it that way. The wings were meaty and a bit on the spicy side for medium, so be warned. The curly fries were crispy but seemed to have waited on the plate for a few minutes -- they were warm but not as hot as they should have been.

J.P. Fitzgerald's prides itself on its corned beef, served year-round, and you have to like that. The corned beef and cabbage dinner ($8.95) was made with plenty of spuds and what looked like a quarter of a head of cabbage, all perfectly boiled to doneness without crossing into mushiness. The corned beef was delicious, although my grandmother would have sliced it a bit thicker.

-- Anne Neville

The kitchen at J.P. Fitzgerald's opens at 11 a.m. daily. It closes at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at midnight on Friday and Saturday and at 10 p.m. on Sunday. It is handicapped-accessible.

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>J.P. Fitzgerald's

4236 Clark St.

Hamburg

649-4025

Review: 3 1/2 pennies (out of four)
Huge menu

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