By Heather Hoch
By Eric Schaefer
By New Times
By Rachel Miller
By Eric Schaefer
By Heather Hoch and Lauren Saria
By Robrt L. Pela
By Heather Hoch
Fibber's owners are Trevor Kingston and Steve Fuller, and the general manager is David Maxwell. I normally wouldn't care all that much about these positions, except that all three are natives of Ireland. Supposedly it's their "family recipes" upon which the restaurant was based when it opened this past spring. And if these guys deserve the credit for the spectacular shepherd's pie served here, then I need to put the honor in print. In fact, readers should put down this newspaper and go get some right now. Honestly, my dining pal, who has been a pretty dedicated vegetarian for the last 30 years, can't stop dipping his fork into my plate. No wonder -- I can't get enough of it either, the braised ground beef, peas, carrots and onions capped with champ (soothing, salted mashed potatoes swirled with sliced scallions) and Irish Cheddar (see "Irish butter = happy cows"). The seduction is in the sauce, a savory, rich, salty jus that confirms that my decision to force these two fellows to join me here was a very, very good one.
Fibber's offers "Armagh" steak (named after a city in Northern Ireland), and it's fine, char-grilled, drizzled with whiskey-green peppercorn sauce and served with roasted vegetables and champ. In bar spirit, Fibber's serves potato skins, chicken wings and nachos. There's immense value in a burger, a full pound of Angus for just $7.95, complete with hand-cut, skin-on steak fries, homemade pasta salad, red potato salad or coleslaw. A few dishes stray to the offbeat, including Mexican champ with chorizo, pico de gallo and cheese; and "Italian Job" champ with Parmesan, basil, tomato, garlic and grilled eggplant.
But what brings me back is the Irish stuff. I love the bangers, crisp-skinned pork sausages that are plump like bratwurst, but mildly seasoned and blissfully ungreasy. I can get them in a bun, on a toasted French roll with whole-grain mustard and sautéed onions, or in a "cork" champ, where they're sliced and scattered over two rounds of champ with the interesting addition of baked beans. During the lunch hour (a much quieter, largely smoke-free time), I feast on a tremendous salmon sandwich, the fish marinated in lemon, char-grilled to the edge of moistness, and slicked with tarragon mayo. Plowman's Dubliner is odd but interesting, layering Irish Cheddar with crunchy cucumber, daikon sprouts and sweet mango chutney. Sides are no oversight, with thoughtfully crafted roasted red potato salad, tricolor pasta salad, creamy slaw or skin-on thick cut steak fries that show concern for their freshness.
480-722-9434. Lunch and dinner, daily, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
The only thing I have yet to work up the appetite for is the full Irish breakfast (served all day), an intimidating ensemble of bacon, sausage, beans, two fried eggs, grilled tomato, fried Irish soda bread, and black and white pudding. It's a bit more than I can handle eating in this hot weather, and besides, that b/w pudding is freaky, being black sausage fashioned from pig's blood, suet and oatmeal; the white version is from oatmeal and ground pork. Under Lomas' care, though, I'd bet this dish is as good as it gets anywhere.
I'm sitting at the bar now, musing with the bartender about the quirky nature of this place and its chef. The beer slinger says that Lomas is fanatical, not afraid to throw away expensive salmon if it's not exactly perfect quality. It gets expensive for the bottom line, the barkeep agrees, though it's cool that the cook is so committed.
An honest-to-goodness head chef who works in a casual, craic-y Irish pub. How unreal is that? I have found the Twilight Zone, and it's located in Chandler. On the southeast corner of Dobson and Elliot, to be exact, next to an Eatza Pizza buffet (madness in itself, only $2.99 for all the greasy pie you can stuff down your throat). This zone of oddity I've landed in is called Fibber Magees, and there's no gentler way to put it: The place is truly bizarre.