Star and Shamrock, the new Irish pub/Jewish deli on H Street NE, is sort of like a Bennigan’s that you actually want to be in. They’re true to the tropes, from the checkerboard fry baskets and Jameson bar mats to the U-shaped bar with sports on the tube. Its Jewish provenance is in the plates, with appetizers such as latkes, matzoh balls, and chicken livers that range from $6 to $9.
But the house-made corned beef is the star, not only in the restaurant’s list of traditional deli and signature sandwiches (mostly $6.50 to $10), but in appetizers such as Reuben egg rolls — crispy-fried cigars filled with a ying-yang of corned beef and kraut. Like most fried snacks at Star and Shamrock, they have a dry crisp that’s easy on the fingers. The ingredients inside are layered hemispherically, so that eaten properly, each bite starts with the sweet fattiness of the corned beef before giving way to sour cabbage.
One menu item stands head-and-tallit above the rest, though: a signature sandwich called “Latke Madness.” In the nascent world of Jewish-Irish fusion, it’s an epiphany. The sandwich is a classic Reuben — corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand-island dressing, and swiss — double-decked between three yarmulke-sized latkes. This is a sandwich for big bites; even with two hands I had a hard time keeping its structural integrity. The simple starch of the browned potato is more comforting than rye bread, the foods combining to effectively make a handheld version of corned-beef hash. It’s a $10 mountain of sustenance that’s at home both as a pub dinner and a recovery brunch.
In draft beer selection, Star and Shamrock only slightly outpaces Bennigan’s, unfortunately, offering some Brooklyn and He’Brew beers in addition to a Guinness-etc. lineup. But patrons benefit from a punny bottle list, which includes very nice rye beers from Bear Republic, Founders, He’Brew, and Blue Point, and a serious collection of 21 Irish whiskeys in addition to bourbon, rye, and scotch. Which is good, because after a case of Latke Madness, you might not have room to suck down a full Irish pint.
About one-fourth of a Latke Madness sandwich
Cross-section of a Reuben egg roll