For all those that observe Lent, or at least enjoy the sweet and fat food traditions leading up to it, mark those calendars — we’re just a couple of weeks away from Shrove Tuesday, which means it’s an exciting time of year for pastries. And Casements, the modern Irish bar in the Mission, is indulging in an old Irish tradition. The pub is serving up pancakes for dinner, courtesy of a cool pop-up, and, even better, they’re pairing them with house cocktails.
Consider it a reminder that Casements is the rare Irish pub in San Francisco that’s not plastered in plastic shamrocks, and actually has Irish people behind the bar. Gillian Fitzgerald and Sean O’Donovan grew up in counties Meath and Clare, and Pancake Tuesday is a fun food holiday in Ireland. It’s a longstanding tradition that goes back centuries (predating all of the trivial food holidays that have proliferated on social media). “It’s the day before Lent,” explains Fitzgerald. “So whether you practice religion or not, before going into fasting, the tradition is to make pancakes to use up perishables like flour and sugar.”
Her family would serve pancakes for dinner, meaning thinner crepe-style pancakes, squeezed with lemon and sprinkled with sugar. But since moving to the states, she’s fallen for thick, American-style buttermilk pancakes. For this pop-up, the pancakes will be provided by Hilda & Jesse, the cool breakfast series from Kristina Compton (Avery, Atelier Crenn, Range, Haven) and Rachel Sillcocks (Cyrus, Nopa, Range). The former fine-dining chefs are known for their inventive tasting menus, breaking out breakfast all day. For this special event, they’re doing a double stack of two fluffy pancakes, with grilled cranberry-maple and fresh buttermilk for pouring over the top.
Casements is pairing its pancake menu with a couple of special cocktails. A mimosa includes sparkling wine and a red currant, gooseberry, and kumquat shrub. And a mezcal martini features smoky mezcal, rosy vermouth, and bitters. There are a few different pricing options for one, two, or three servings, ranging from single-serving baby bottles to big-batch full wine bottles. Preorders go live on the site today, and they’re available for pickup or local delivery.
Similar to the pie pop-up that Casements did in December, Fitzgerald saw pancakes as an opportunity to bring a favorite Irish tradition to San Francisco, and serve up some comfort at home. “We’re just trying to do something nice for people far from home,” she says. “For our community, we’re open for outdoor dining, but not everyone feels comfortable being here, and we still want people to be able to have an experience at home.” People who are fond of the Irish, British, and Australian traditions might be especially excited about pancakes. But then again, breakfast for dinner is a universal delight, especially when you kick in cocktails.
Fitzgerald would also like to add that while Christian Lent is a strict 40 days, she is of the opinion that Irish Lent unofficially ends on Saint Patrick’s Day, a couple of weeks early. Suffice it to say, Casements will have another round of drinks in store. Stay tuned for cocktail updates.