Half Time Rec was until now best known for the bocce ball in the basement and the neighborhood friendly beverage prices. Smack Shack owners Josh Thoma and Kevin Fitzgerald have partnered with Jack Riebel, late of Butcher & the Boar to create an Irish flavored bar food menu.
They've built out an entirely new kitchen for the bar that until now was only serving free popcorn. The collaboration is much the same as Smack Shack's successful teaming with the 1029 Bar in Northeast: Dive bar atmosphere, chef made eats.
Although Riebel's background began with fine dining at Goodfellows, La Belle Vie and the Dakota, he isn't about the love of a good bite of fried food. Born and raised in St. Paul, he's expressed his excitement to be cooking inside his hometown city limits. "I've never done bar food before!" he said. Although, he has found a commitment to battered and stuffed jalapenos, of which, there is a luxury version tentatively planned for The Lex. "Then, I'll be four for four," he said, noting his four last restaurant's he's run, which have all sported a spicy and unique version. When he signed on with the project, he threw himself into studying classic Irish food. The result is a heady mix of crispy fried dishes built to banish all hunger.
Paddy Shack's dishes include a shatter-crisp beer battered fish and chips, Reuben poppers, a massive burger, a slew of hot dogs wrapped in bacon and proper chips available with a myriad of toppings from classic malt vinegar to an avalanche of chili and cheese.
Meanwhile, the bar remains the same comfortable day drinking, late night hang it's always been. The owners have given the walls a fresh coat of paint and the worn, wood floors a buffing, but they wear the dive bar mantle proudly.
The kitchen will be serving from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with late night happy hour beginning at 9.m. that includes specials on rails, taps, domestics and food.