As Tommy, one of Howl at the Moon’s piano players, explains on the club’s website, “Every night…we try and throw a party, regardless of whether it’s a Tuesday night or a Saturday night.” The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. Servers stand over patrons to plunge jello injectors into their mouths, and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 86-ounce booze buckets filled with sangria or other fruity libations. Pomegranate liqueur and honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
There’s nothing more quintessentially Irish than Guinness beer, a fact not lost on the chefs at Fitzgerald’s Irish Pub. Led by Deacon Ovall, recently featured on Fox Charlotte's Chef Spotlight, the kitchen staff pairs house-cured corned beef and cabbage with Guinness au jus, smothers flank-steak shepherd's pie with Guinness gravy, and batters fried cod fillets in Guinness batter. But the menu is nothing if not multifaceted, with offerings ranging from traditional Irish eats and hearty half-pound Black Angus burgers to nearly a dozen freshly tossed salads.
Diners can pair their upscale pub eats with a hearty selection of pours. Four of the eight draft beers on tap hail from Ireland itself, and the servers also mix up "Lucktinis," including the Spiced Leprechaun made with Bacardi Oakheart, sour-apple Schnapps, and pineapple juice. Big-screen TVs dazzle eyes as flights of Irish whiskey tantalize tongues. Every Wednesday at 9 p.m., rounds of trivia keep brains from forgetting little-known factoids, such as the name of George Washington’s least-favorite fruit.
Though its dark wood trimmings and furnishings hark back to traditional pub decor, the rest of The Pub at Gateway drags that tradition into the 21st century. Broadcasting the latest sports, large LCD televisions hang above the tables and booths. Behind granite bar tops, bartenders mix more than 30 types of martinis, distribute beer via tap and bottle, and supply wine by the glass or fire hose.
The beverages complement the comforting pub food that emerges from the kitchen until 1:30 a.m. every night. Feasts range from a burger wrap filled with Angus beef, grilled onion, and barbecue sauce to sandwiches crafted with meats and cheeses, artisan bread from Nova's Bakery, and signature spreads and sauces made in-house daily. Throughout meals, The Pub at Gateway keeps diners entertained with festivities such as poker, trivia nights, live acoustic music, and DJs who spin top 40 records.
Using recipes passed down from the owner's Scottish ancestors, Molly MacPherson's menu is stocked with cuisine traditionally served in the Scottish highlands. Start with the golden-fried Guinness-battered onion rings ($6.50) or the potato scones, garnished with sliced almonds and served with sweet raspberry preserves ($5). The homemade Scottish meatloaf emanates savory smells, served with a heaping of garlic smashed potatoes and fresh veggies ($11), and the Blackwatch burger satiates stomachs with a half-pound of grilled highland beef ($8, add cheese or bacon for $0.75 each). For dessert, toss out your makeshift edible kilt and snack on the sticky toffee pudding, a warm sponge cake baked with toffee sauce ($5).
Dandelion Market serves salads and flatbreads at lunch and a collection of small, shareable plates at dinner. For portable proteins, select between grilled-steak skewers ($12) or grilled-lamb lollipops ($16). Paired well with a bottle of wine ($25), ale-simmered sausage bites ($6) come with hot sweet mustard to give each bite bite. Every Monday, cover bands serenade patrons while Dandelion serves $3 pints from the selection of 24 craft-style brews.
Black Bear's varied menu, offered until 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, includes appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, and entrees that quell the voracious hungers of partiers and lost conquistador explorers. Opt for a fish-and-chips platter ($13.49) and vodka penne pasta with chicken and parmesan cheese ($10.49), or start off small with appetizers such as nachos ($9.49) and mac-‘n’-cheese bites ($7.49). Additionally, a scenic outdoor patio provides the perfect spot to enjoy a drink from the fully stocked bar and to keep an eye out for pterodactyls.