Fenian’s Pub sits on the corner of Fortification and Jefferson, right on the line between Belhaven and Belhaven Heights. We have history, the pub and I. It was the first restaurant I set foot in upon arriving in Jackson. I made many close friends there, and made and lost more than a few memories. I spent so much time and money in that establishment, the Visa fraud department would call me if Fenian’s didn’t show up on my bill at least five nights a week as that indicated that my debit card was no longer my own.
Looking back, I can admit that I developed an bonafide emotional addiction for Guinness, Jaeger-Bombs, and Bookmaker sandwiches (Fenian’s version of the French Dip – a toasted hoagie roll piled high with juicy roast beef, cheddar cheese, and au jus for dipping). But as far as food went, that was all that I would order. I was familiar with the rest of the menu, and I just wasn’t interested.
But recently, I realized I was making my dining choice based on a menu from seven years ago. A lot has changed since then. For one, a Jaeger-Bomb is now about as appealing to me as getting kicked by a mule wearing stiletto heels. For two, there’s a whole new team behind the menu, and a whole lot more to choose from. For instance, there’s a recently introduced wrap menu, and it’s my new addiction.
The wraps aren’t a part of the menu proper at the moment, but they’re listed on table-toppers on each table. You’ve got a couple of the usual suspects, such as Chicken Caesar and Ranch B.L.T, both of which deliver exactly as promised. But the one that has my undivided attention is the Jerk Chicken wrap – Jamaican Jerk seasoned chicken with pineapple, lettuce, and fresh sliced tomatoes. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for pineapple – I’ll try it on anything, and this doesn’t disappoint. But the jerk seasoning is what really shines. It’s got a definite kick without being prohibitively spicy. As a fellow who has recently discovered he’s prone to the occasional bout of heartburn (thanks, Jaeger-Bombs) this is an important factor for me. This wrap has a spiciness that adds to the flavor beautifully without overpowering the fruit and veggies. The Veggie Wrap – not the type of thing I’d normally go nuts for – is also well seasoned and surprisingly hearty, with fresh yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers, red onions, broccoli, and carrots.
As I said earlier, the menu still offers the usual pub fare as well, so no review would be complete without mention of the baddest beast on the menu – the Scotch Egg. It’s a hard–boiled egg, wrapped in ground sausage, breaded, fried, and served with a mustard dressing. Do not underestimate the Scotch Egg; this thing is not for beginners. But it’s delicious, and if you’ve got what it takes to defeat it, you’re in for a treat.
The current manager, T Francis, and the current kitchen manager, Josh Speights, are the ones responsible for turning things around. The Fenian’s menu is still loaded with comfy, familiar pub food, but now with a couple of passionate foodies behind the wheel, they’ve taken everything up a notch, and explored new ideas.
Just a general word of advice – if you ever catch word that T is serving a new “infused” liquor, try it immediately. Peanut rum, strawberry vanilla gin, and apple bourbon are just three examples off the top of my head, and they have all been unusual and fantastic. But they’re always in limited quantities, so strike while the iron’s hot.
Insider tip: I’m also told that the menu is about to experience a brand new overhaul, introducing several new sandwich, burger, and wrap options. The one I’m most excited about? Apparently for a small upcharge you will be able to make any burger “stupid.” Translation – you can replace the bun with a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches. Challenge accepted, old friend. Challenge accepted.
Food: Hearty pub fare – fried foods, sandwiches, wraps and burgers, as well as a few Irish staples such as Shepherd’s Pie and Corned Beef and Cabbage. And now, wraps (awesome); and soon, stupid burgers (get ready).
Atmosphere: Irish pub through and through – dim, lively, with live music almost every night, and one of the most rewarding karaoke nights around.
Service: Dependent on when you visit. The bartenders know what they’re doing, and the lunch and dinner hours are pretty swift. Keep in mind that weekend nights are often packed wall-to-wall, though, so if you’re eating late, just settle in and enjoy yourself.
Are you a Fenian’s fan? Have you tried their new menu items, or dinner specials – or infused drinks? Tell us in the comments below!