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I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of eating an entire meal at a pub. Past experiences with pub grub – here and abroad – led me to believe that "authentic" doesn't necessarily mean "great." But the proprietors of Fiddler's Green prove that a focus on flavor, presentation and service can spell "gourmet" for traditional Irish cuisine.

The restaurant retains the cozy atmosphere of its predecessors, Mulvaney's and Prince of Wales. It's got the same ornate woodwork, dart boards, Irish-themed knickknacks and entertainment stage. Now, there's a separate dining room that's upscale and intimate in a country-inn sort of way.

Fiddler's Green offers a full selection of draft ales, lagers and stouts, which you can order by the pint or half-pint. While my guest and I waited, our server brought us a basket of thick, crumbly scones, which nicely offset the beer.

We split an order of lightly browned potato pancakes with grated cheddar and scallions ($6.50; $5.95) topped with smoked salmon or sour cream and chives. Other appetizers include steamed mussels ($7.50) and smoked fish spread ($5.50). Dieters will be glad to know that the menu also includes your basic salad assortment.

Along with a variety of sandwiches and burgers ($5.25-$8.95), Fiddler's entrees include standbys like corned beef and cabbage ($9.95); fish and chips, and "bangers and mash" (both $8.95). Among the more gourmet fare: grilled salmon with champagne sauce ($14.95) and roast duck ($15.95).

I ordered the "Hen in a Pot" ($7.95), a scrumptious variation on chicken pot pie. Instead of pie crust, the "pot" was topped, hat-like, with a flaky pastry. The stew below was piping hot with big chunks of tender chicken and vegetables, seasoned just right.

My companion stuck with another basic-but-hearty dish, Irish stew ($9.95). Once again, the seasonings – thyme, in this case – made this dish a standout. Presentation of both entrees was excellent, with extras like huge plates, fresh herbs and doilies. Desserts include bread and butter pudding, and blackberry/apple crumble ($3.95-$4.50). We were way too full to sample them.

Great service and excellent food mean Fiddler's Green is not like most Irish pubs; it's better.

There are some restaurants in Orlando that should have a revolving door installed. Or an erasable sign, at least. Take this one place in Casselberry, for example. In the past 16 years it has been Melon's, Crickets, Spirits, Heckle 'n Jeckle's, and now, Holly & Dolly's, which leads us to the one continuous factor that has tied them all together.

Actually, there are several continuous factors – mostly being beer, bar food and televisions – but the main one is spelled out over the front, nonrevolving door, and that is Dolly and her twin sister, Holly.

Actually, there are several continuous factors – mostly being beer, bar food and televisions – but the main one is spelled out over the front, nonrevolving door, and that is Dolly and her twin sister, Holly.

You'll see one or the other running around behind the bar or checking on a table (you might see both of them, but it's hard to tell), athletic women with masses of dark hair and a great deal of energy. They started their joint working careers that included four years as mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, spending wrinkly hours underwater for your tourist pleasure. Apparently tiring of cavorting with the clams, they discovered, Ariel-like, the existence of their legs, and spent 10 years dancing le cancan at Rosie O'Grady's, obviously in rebellion of their fish ancestry.

You'll see one or the other running around behind the bar or checking on a table (you might see both of them, but it's hard to tell), athletic women with masses of dark hair and a great deal of energy. They started their joint working careers that included four years as mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs, spending wrinkly hours underwater for your tourist pleasure. Apparently tiring of cavorting with the clams, they discovered, Ariel-like, the existence of their legs, and spent 10 years dancing le cancan at Rosie O'Grady's, obviously in rebellion of their fish ancestry.

It was a short spin-and-kick to Melon's, and the dual barmaid gig seemed to be the right one for Dolly Heltsley and Holly Hall. When the place and its liquor license went up for sale, H and D took the bait (no pun intended) and Holly & Dolly's was born. Is it a dream come true? "No," Dolly says honestly, "but it's a steady business and we have a built-in clientele."

It was a short spin-and-kick to Melon's, and the dual barmaid gig seemed to be the right one for Dolly Heltsley and Holly Hall. When the place and its liquor license went up for sale, H and D took the bait (no pun intended) and Holly & Dolly's was born. Is it a dream come true? "No," Dolly says honestly, "but it's a steady business and we have a built-in clientele."

The sports bar/restaurant/neighborhood hangout looks typical, the bar being the focal point of the room, stools occupied by truckers and old farmers and students alike. Most of them are nursing beers and staring at the NTN trivia screens, punching half-hearted guesses about Shakespeare and sports into little keyboards. There are tables and booths on both sides, and the atmosphere is definitely more family place than meat market.

The sports bar/restaurant/neighborhood hangout looks typical, the bar being the focal point of the room, stools occupied by truckers and old farmers and students alike. Most of them are nursing beers and staring at the NTN trivia screens, punching half-hearted guesses about Shakespeare and sports into little keyboards. There are tables and booths on both sides, and the atmosphere is definitely more family place than meat market.

I would have expected more seafood on the menu, but the offerings do go beyond bar fare. Grilled grouper or fried tempura shrimp ($8.95 each) come with veggies and rice pilaf, and the kitchen does tuna steak as rare as you want it ($12.95). They also have pasta, sandwiches and a surprisingly long list of steaks available – try to get that at the corner saloon. Of course, bar food is available, but with little twists, like nibbles of gator or chunks of chicken breast served in wings sauce.

I would have expected more seafood on the menu, but the offerings do go beyond bar fare. Grilled grouper or fried tempura shrimp ($8.95 each) come with veggies and rice pilaf, and the kitchen does tuna steak as rare as you want it ($12.95). They also have pasta, sandwiches and a surprisingly long list of steaks available – try to get that at the corner saloon. Of course, bar food is available, but with little twists, like nibbles of gator or chunks of chicken breast served in wings sauce.

DJs on Saturday nights and live bands on Fridays crank up the volume and the crowd, but all in all it's a little "Cheers"-like, with food. "Hi Ed, how are you?" Dolly yells out from the bar, proving my point.

Hoops is a cheap and friendly place to go before any event at the Amway Arena. We offer great subs and sandwiches from opening to closing.
Teaser: Cheap and friendly, Hoops is for serious drinking by people who have a reason to do serious drinking. There are pool tables, electronic dart boards and excellent sandwiches, but we go for the darkness and the smoker-friendly environment. Be sure to bring cash; they don't take credit.

I've always considered Irish food to be similar to British food in the sense that it's something you eat because you're already at the pub, have had a few pints and don't feel like driving somewhere else to get a real meal. So it's bangers and mash, maybe a shepherd's pie, to soak up the hooch and settle the stomach; not bad, but not stellar. It'll do.

Now that I have been to Raglan Road, an Irish pub and restaurant at Disney's Pleasure Island, however, I'm going to have to reconsider that assessment. Their Irish fare is tasty enough to entice a teetotaler into a pub, and I now understand that there is no excuse for mediocre Irish food.

My expectations of the place, frankly, were low. Given the location, I assumed they were slinging the same old Emerald Isle standards at the tourists and doubling the prices. Surely the menu would be nothing but boiled this and cabbage that, heavy on the corned beef and a crock of stew on the side.

But once inside the place, I quickly sensed that it was not a typical Americanized Irish pub, and it turned out that it wasn't. While walking back to our table after a short wait, the chatty hostess informed us that the room we were dining in was actually an Irish estate house, disassembled there and shipped here piece by piece. The furniture is all antique, and the framed photos hanging on the dark wooden walls are authentic. The result is an amazingly cozy atmosphere for such a large restaurant.

We started with an appetizer named "Smokie City" ($10.95) which sounded sketchy ("oven baked layers of smoked cod with mature Wexford cheddar and double cream") but turned out to be brilliant. The smoked cod, dense and lovely, was offset perfectly by the tangy cheddar sauce in which it swam. We lapped up every bite, smearing it like a spread on large slices of crusty sourdough, then turned the crock over to get the last few drops.

Entree No. 1 was "Planxty" ($19.95), a dish that I ordered because I liked the name. What I got was roast pork shank poking up out of a bed of mashed potatoes, with a side of apple chutney. About that roast pork: When the meat falls off the bone before you can get it on the fork, it's tender. And this was tender. The chutney added a note of sweetness, and the potatoes were nice and lumpy, so no complaints at all. It was a very satisfying dish.

Entree No. 2, "It's Not Bleedin' Chowder," was similarly expensive ($19.95) and just as good. The name is supposedly a quote from the chef when he was asked exactly what the dish was, which is a rich mix of scallops, fish, mussels and prawns, mixed in a white wine sauce infused with saffron and finished with cream. At that price it better not be bleedin' chowder, and it better not look like anything that came out of a can. It wasn't, and it didn't. The seafood was fresh, the sauce was tangy and lively, and I can't recall having tasted a better fish stew, if you can call it that.

The only item that disappointed was the bowl of "Down the Middle" ($5.50), a hearty but bland tomato and vegetable broth soup. That was for the vegetarian in the family, because there wasn't much else on the menu she could eat.

Dessert, which took almost 20 minutes to get to the table for some reason, was "Ger's Bread & Butter Pudding" ($7.99). I'm not much of a bread pudding fan, which is exactly why I ordered it. So far the meal had exceeded all my expectations. Would dessert disappoint? Not a chance. Ger, whoever he/she may be, has concocted a heavenly bread pudding. It comes out in a warm crock with tiny pitchers of butter and butterscotch that you add yourself, as much or as little as you like. The sourdough bread soaks it up, and you get a raisin-infused mush that's sweet, rich and cinnamony. Once again I upended the serving dish to coax out the last drop.

This being Disney, there's entertainment in the form of table dancing and an Irish band. But that's just dressing. This is a pub you can come into for dinner, and maybe hang around to grab a Guinness or two or three.

Sitting right on the shores of the sleepy St. Johns River, Wolfy's plays its beachy Key West theme to the hilt, yet the vibe is still comfortable without being overbearing. There are plenty of spots inside to enjoy a shot and the live music, as well as a smattering of outdoor tables to sip on a beer and watch the lazy river slip on by. They've even got breakfast on the weekends (with mimosas) to soothe weekend-morning hangovers.

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