Pub at Southport
For millennial folks have visited and enjoyed pubs for a host of reasons, though the availability of adult beverages does not likely top the list. If it were just that, they could stay at home and drink far more economically, with no danger of racking up a DUI.
Pubs — the good ones anyway — attract people who like to socialize. And they do it with a certain formula that includes a comfortable, welcoming setting (read “bartenders”) that is pleasing to both the eye and the psyche. It’s a place where the patron feels that he or she belongs — immediately.
Such a place is The Pub at Southport. A first-timer walking in (which is what I was) gets an instant feeling that this place meets all the criteria. It’s clearly an Irish pub (which some Irish wags call Irish Sunblock) — a bit dark, but quite comfortably so.
And while it doesn’t contain a typical “snug” per se, it has enough spaces for private conversation to encourage such, and a bar area that would satisfy both the solo sipper as well as the most garrulous Irishman. (Is there another kind?)
The place, which is the only distinctly Irish bar in the area, has an outdoor patio with a bar for the warmer months, and it fills up regularly.
As you might imagine, March 17 brings on a marathon of sorts as “Kegs and Eggs” (and likely bangers and mash) used to begin at the ungodly hour of 7 am. “Kegs and Eggs” will not, however, be part of this year’s celebration, though the pub will be in full swing as usual.
The personality of the staff, especially the barman — or in my case, the bar gal — plays an important role. My visit serendipitously coincided with the work schedule of one of the most pleasant bar gals I’ve ever encountered. Alyssa, a transplanted New Yorker, was genuinely friendly, knowledgeable (especially about the pub’s history and its menu) and attentively efficient.
So was Kevin who was working the floor. Both seemed to exude the pub’s motto: “There are no strangers here … only friends we have yet to meet.”
There is a catch, however. To become a “regular,” you have to have a special membership that allows you to quaff and dine in The Pub at Southport. I’ve noticed that this seems to be a N.C. thing, as I “belong” to a similar club down at Southport’s waterfront area. That membership, which cost me the princely sum of one dollar a year, allows me to bring in five guests to enjoy the special ambience and privileges of such privacy.
So Alyssa signed me up, revealing that in N.C., in order to be designated as a private club, the business’s alcohol sales must exceed its food sales, and close attention is paid to that ratio by the N.C. examiners who occasionally stop in to ensure that everything is run according to Hoyle — or Doyle as the case may be. They also run periodic spotchecks to assure that everyone inside is a member or a guest. As a member, I’m now in the clear, and so are my guests.
The Pub at Southport plays by the rules—manager Patrick Gaynor sees to that—but the menu in the pub offers some really outstanding dishes. By all means, try the Reuben Egg Rolls, which have an upside and a downside. The upside is that they’re incredibly good, but the downside is that unless you’re sharing them (which I refused to do), you probably will be too full to order anything else—like the Steak and Guinness Pie. I’ll get to that next time, for sure.
Oh, and take Alyssa’s suggestion and ask for the Honey-Mustard dipping sauce. Knockout quality, right there.
And Gaynor apparently knows his way around his beer lists, too. You can find them on the Untapped app, and if you enjoy them and comment on them, your name will scroll underneath the Beer Offerings sign above the bar, along with the date you enjoyed them. There are lots of N.C. beers on that menu, too.
I certainly enjoyed my selections of Salty Turtle Manila Mango IPA, Bell’s Hopslam DIPA (10%) and Hi-Wire’s Apricot and Peach, a beer which “comes close” to being a sour, which I usually avoid. But it didn’t come close enough to keep me from enjoying it.
With staff like Alyssa (who’s expecting in August) and Kevin (who’s not), The Pub at Southport satisfies all of The PubScout’s criteria for a quality pub: Good Pubs, Good Beer, Good People.
Add to that good food, great ambience and “private” membership, and you’ve got yourself a winner.