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Creative Escapes — McCreary’s

McCreary's in Franklin, Tennessee

Every since I was a little kid, St. Patrick’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. It’s not so much what I do on the day. It’s more like the dream of what can be done. Maybe I just hope I’ll find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or maybe the leprechaun will grant me my wishes. I’ll never stop dreaming.

Actually, I don’t have to look far if I’m looking for a real treasure. I’ve found a jewel of an eatery in downtown historic Franklin, my favorite place to escape. McCreary’s Pub is a family-friendly restaurant that serves patrons a variety of traditional Irish fare plus a broad choice of traditional American foods.

Okay, so I couldn't resist a nibble before I snapped the picture.

My favorite is the fish and chips. The portions are hearty, and the taste is delectable. The cod fillets are deep fried to a golden brown and come with chips, a.k.a homestyle fries. In most restaurants I skip the tartar sauce to save calories, but I try a little when I’m at McCreary’s. However, my favorite condiment is the malt vinegar.

Other selections include Shepherd’s Pie, the Dublin Pot Pie, and the Whiskey Salmon. I haven’t broken from my routine yet, but I’m determined to try at least one of these dishes.

The portions are plentiful, but if you’re really hungry, you’ll be tempted to try the appetizers. My favorite is the Wings of Donegal. My younger son isn’t particularly a fan of wings, but he really likes these. They’re served with creamy bleu cheese and celery, and they’re delicious.

If you’re really adventurous, you might try the bangers and mash, which, translated, refers to chicken sausage stuffed with asiago cheese and spinach, served with mash potatoes, homemade Irish soda bread, and spicy mustard.

I like the wings!

I’m such a night owl that I do well to make it to Franklin for lunch. However, McCreary’s now serves breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. Irish omelettes, bangers, and bread pudding French toast are just a few items on the menu. And fish. I’ve never head fish for breakfast, but if I can eat artichokes for breakfast—as I did in Indianapolis at the ACFW conference, I can certainly try fish.

While the food is great, it’s the atmosphere that brings me back to McCreary’s. This is truly a locally owned Mom and Pop style store that makes customers feel like family.

The first thing patrons will notice after stepping into the little restaurant is words of St. Patrick stenciled literally all around the walls. The words “Christ above me” make it clear the owners aren’t ashamed of their beliefs.

People of all ages are welcome. However, you should know that McCreary’s is a pub, and like other fine restaurants, beer and other adult beverages are on the menu.

With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner,  you might consider making McCreary’s your St. Patty’s Day destination. They’re open until midnight with plenty of St. Patrick’s Day swag to give away. Families with young children would probably find the early evening hours or lunchtime more suitable. The later hours are better suited for adults.

On Friday and Saturday nights and on St. Patrick’s Day, patrons can hear live Celtic music. Ever heard of a bodhran? Neither had I until one my musically talented friends introduced me. If you catch the Celtic music, you may hear a bodhran, as well as a fiddle, a tin whistle, a guitar, or a mandolin. You might even be invited to dance a little jig.

As I’ve mentioned before, historic Franklin is my favorite creative escape. But McCreary’s was a serendipitous discovery. I’m a fan of coffee houses, and my favorite of all favorites used to be a little place called Jammin’ Java in Franklin. I used to catch my favorite Christian bands there before they became so popular.  Unfortunately, Jammin’ Java is no longer open.

I happened to be chatting with one of the artists during GMA Week in Nashville, and I told him my lifelong dream was to own a coffee house / music venue like Jammin’ Java. Little did I know that he was personal friends with the man who owned Jammin’ Java. (He happened to work within the Christian music industry.) The artist gave the owner a call, and within minutes he met with us and filled me in on the details of starting my own venue—a dream I still hold onto today.

Turns out the former owner of Jammin’ Java was the proud owner of a new Irish pub called McCreary’s. I had to go check it out. And I keep on going back today.

Even though Franklin is a good hour, hour and a half, away from my little town, the trip is well worth the time and gas money. On the way there I get lost in the beautiful roadside scenery, and after my meal, I always take a stroll through the town and visit some of the shops. My favorite is Philanthropy, a unique boutique, specializing in clothing, jewelry, and gift products with “purpose, passion, and style.”

I’ll have to save this review for another blog, but trust me, if you like fashion with an artistic flair, this is the store for you. More importantly, Philanthropy donates a portion of every sale to charity. Currently, Philanthropy is raising $35,000 to build two wells for the people of a village in Southern Sudan. Philanthropy also raised $30,000 for the Hands and Feet Project, started by the band Audio Adrenaline.

If you’re looking for a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, take a trip to McCreary’s. The employees are always willing to go the extra mile to make the customers feel welcome. (For St. Patrick’s Day, they always add a little green food coloring to my son’s Sprite just to make it more festive.) And if you have room, take me. I’ll never pass up an opportunity to enjoy this creative escape.

If you hold a four-leaf shamrock in your left hand at dawn on St. Patrick’s Day, you get what you want very much but haven’t wished for.  ~  Patricia Lynch

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