Advertisement
  1. Arts & Entertainment

Bar review: The Forge is an Irish independent

Photos courtesy of Geneva Johnson The Forge is a traditional Irish pub — even if it doesn’t look like one. Nearly all of the interior décor remains from the previous tenant, such as this large and detailed wall sculpture made up of cogs and gears.
Photos courtesy of Geneva Johnson The Forge is a traditional Irish pub — even if it doesn’t look like one. Nearly all of the interior décor remains from the previous tenant, such as this large and detailed wall sculpture made up of cogs and gears.
Published Apr. 10, 2019

Who doesn't like a good underdog story?

This one is taking place in Brandon, where even bars and restaurants struggle against the chain giants that are the area's status quo. The Mill, for example, didn't make it long — though its owners consider its new Tampa digs to be a relocation rather than a closure — and The Forge has entered the fray in its stead.

The Forge is a traditional Irish pub, even if it doesn't look like one. Nearly all of the interior décor remains from the previous tenants, which makes sense considering how detailed and unique are the cogs and gears that make up an intense wall sculpture and surrounding industrial façades. The effect is part steampunk, part Irish.

Owners Patrick and Mariely Crowne bring some authenticity to the table via Patrick's background. He hails from Ireland and got some help on the menu from his mother, who flew in to assist with the recipes. The music is a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish tunes, and a stage has been built near the bar for regular live music from musicians like Brendan Nolan, a St. Pete Beach singer originally from Dublin.

RELATED: London Heights British Pub

This is one of the rare cases where it's smart for a new business to avoid creating a new image. Instead, the Crownes have leveraged an existing unique look with a name to match, and it gives a striking new feel to the otherwise typical pub format.

I think The Forge should keep a house cocktail list. I know you won't find such a thing at most traditional Irish pubs, but considering the unusual décor that the business has inherited, something a little off-script wouldn't be unwelcome. As it stands now, you're likely to gravitate toward a modest lineup of Irish whiskeys, or maybe a cocktail made with Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin, flavored with gunpowder green tea.

RELATED: Reel Slo Irish Red Ale

The beer list is a nice mix of local, popular domestics and imports and a few Irish classics, like Guinness and Kilkenny (both poured on nitro), or Harp and Smithwick's. The prices are fair, and the seven-hour weekday happy hour makes it easy to pop in for a cheap drink.

All of the ingredients are there — traditional Irish fare, live music, good beer and spirits — along with the added benefit of looking and feeling distinctly different. If The Forge can overdeliver in a few other categories — service and selection, for example — then it'll prove to be an asset to the local drinking and dining scene. It'll be a challenge, but I'm an optimist.

I won't claim to have an intimate understanding of the bar landscape in Brandon, but I do know that it's not an easy fight. I think this steampunk Irish pub pouring frothy pints and robust whiskeys in chain-dominated Brandon has a fighting chance.

— jg@saintbeat.com

The Forge Irish Pub

109 W Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon. (813) 548-7090; theforgeirishpub.com

The vibe: An Irish pub filled with ornate, industrial décor inherited from the previous tenant.

Food: Sides, appetizers, sous and salads, $2.95-$10.99; entrées, $10.99-$13.99; dessert, $6.99.

Booze: Beer, $4.25-$6; wine, $6; liquor, $5-$12. Happy hour is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, featuring $3 select domestic drafts and $3.50 select domestic bottles, $3.75 wells and $5 house wines.

Specialty: Recommending Irish beer and spirits at an Irish pub is a given, and there are several good options available. Expect lots of Saint James beers on draft, from nitrogenated pints of Guinness and Kilkenny to Harp lager and Smithwick's Irish red ale. There are several Jameson varieties on the shelf, as well as the ever-popular Tullamore Dew, but for a different take, try a G&T made with Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish gin, a spirit flavored with gunpowder green tea and "exotic Oriental botanicals."

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The techniques are as varied as the costumes when Gasparilla parade-goers beckon for beads from the floats. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE  |  Times]
    We were warned. Now the pirates are here. Stay with tampabay.com all day for the latest reports.
  2. Isabel Allende's new novel is "A Long Petal of the Sea." [Courtesy of Lori Barra]
    ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ is a moving novel of the political and the personal.
  3. In this July 30, 2019, file photo, a Super Mario figure is displayed at a showroom in Tokyo. After months of being tight-lipped, Comcast executives on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, said the fourth park at Universal Orlando would be based on characters from Nintendo. [KOJI SASAHARA  |  AP]
    Universal Studios is building theme parks based on Nintendo video games across the world. Orlando is set to get its Super Nintendo World in 2023.
  4. Roger Waters will perform at Orlando's Amway Center on Aug. 13. [AEG Presents]
    Catch up on today’s Tampa Bay concert announcements.
  5. DJ Khaled has announced a residency at Hard Rock venues around the country, and it includes a show at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa. [Epic Records]
    The omnipresent hip-hop dealmaker kicks off his stretch of Hard Rock dates in February.
  6. Leading the way up Seddon Channel during the 2014 pirate invasion is the Jose Gasparilla, escorted by a Tampa Police Department boat and surrounded by hundreds of private vessels. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times 2014]
    As many as 100 law enforcement boats from some 20 agencies will keep an eye out for drunk operators and boats in trouble.
  7. Pirates from Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla fire their guns and cannons aboard the Jose Gasparilla as it heads for the dock at the Tampa Convention Center during the pirate invasion. [JAY CONNER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Service suffers when so many people are texting their friends and posting their photos. Follow these tips Saturday for digital dominance.
  8. Rebecca Dominguez-Karimi [CASTILLO  |  courtesy of Rebecca Karimi]
    The oral historian is a deep reader of history. She will visit Sulphur Springs Museum Sunday.
  9. Walt Disney Imagineering unveiled the Epcot Experience, which opened Oct. 1, 2019, inside Epcot at Walt Disney World. Located in the Odyssey Events Pavilion, it is the first in-depth look at the historic transformation already underway at Epcot. A 360-degree film presentation features upcoming attractions in development and projection-mapping technology highlights an artfully designed model of the park. [DAVID ROARK  |  Walt Disney World]
    From movies to rides based around ‘Ratatouille’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ it will be the park’s biggest change yet.
  10. The cast of "Floribama Shore." Season 3, which was shot in Pinellas County, premieres in November. [Courtesy of MTV]
    It’s still as confusing now as it was when the news broke in July.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement