In 1913, French mathematician Émile Borel introduced a thought experiment that has come to be known as the infinite monkey theorem. Essentially, the theorem posits that a single monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will eventually type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare. Espying a sign bearing the name Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob-wllllantysiliogogogoch when we visited the island of Anglesey in Wales, we wondered if that monkey had been set loose on the sign bearing the village’s name.
When Kim asked me to try pronouncing the 58-character name (which actually translates to “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave”), I told her locals just called it “Llano” for short. As soon as she remembered Llano is actually a “suburb” of Peñasco, she had a few short names for me. Our visit to the “Welsh Llano” came to mind when our debonair dachshund, The Dude and I visited the Quarter Celtic Brewpub. If Welsh naming conventions hold true, I had to wonder if its full name would translate from Welsh to “the Quarter Celtic Brewpub on the northeast intersection of San Mateo and Lomas in the lower-level of the Ace Hardware Courtyard Shopping Center.” Welsh, after all, is one of six remaining Celtic languages, maybe the most difficult.
Alas, the story behind the name “Quarter Celtic” isn’t quite as interesting as an infinite number of monkeys on a keyboard having come up with its name. Essentially, the genesis of the name is derived from the Celtic lineage of the brewpub’s three founding partners. One is a quarter Irish, one a quarter Scottish and the third is a quarter Welsh. Thematically, a quarter of the brewpub’s ales are Celtic by style and a quarter of the menu is comprised of Celtic fare. The feel, however, is 100 percent neighborhood pub, with several shout-outs to Ireland and Great Britain where traces of the Celtic language and culture are most prominent today. Those include the proud flags of each traditionally Celtic nation. The brewpub’s logo—a keg complete with tap–is fashioned in the stylized graphical representations of knots which are used extensively in Celtic art. It’s really quite clever.
Long-time denizens of the Duke City who might not be familiar with the “Ace Hardware Courtyard Shopping Center” need only recall this retail space was once named “Fashion Square” back in the 90s and counted among its tenants Kistler-Collister, home for fashion among the well-heeled. More recently, the space in which Quarter Celtic sits was home to Freemont’s Fine Foods, one of the city’s oldest family-owned businesses. Several high-end restaurants occupied the space before that. The Quarter Celtic Brewpub has transformed the 7,300 square-foot milieu and sprawling dog-friendly patio into an attractive spot that despite not having a street-level storefront facade, appears to have a very loyal and captive following.
It’s easy to ferret out the quarter of the menu that’s comprised of “Celtic fare.” Simply look for dishes you’ve had at any Irish or Scottish pub across the fruited plain or across the pond. That means Scotch eggs, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, corned beef and cabbage and the like. It’s contemporary cuisine, certainly not what ancient Celts (a very carnivorous lot) would have enjoyed. Some items on the menu probably can’t be attributed to the Celts, but they’ve got cutesy contemporary Celtic names such as “Sullivan’s salsa and guac” and “shillelagh sticks.”
29 September 2018: The hearty housemade Quarter Porter Stew (a medley of fresh vegetables, beef and quarter Porter served with soda bread) will certainly warm you to your bones on a harsh winter day in Ireland, Scotland, Wales or Albuquerque. It’s brimming with ingredients and flavor though it doesn’t have as much beef as carnivorous Celts might want (especially if they’re dining with a dachshund who demands his share). The vegetables are somewhere between soft and crispy, the way they should be. The soda bread, a pretty basic bread, is dense and wholesome. It’s a great bread for sopping up the stew.
29 September 2018: Because potatoes are a “new world” vegetable introduced to Europe in the 16th century, ancient Celts didn’t eat fish and chips, but their descendants certainly do. Today, there are some 11,000 fish and chip shops throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. Fish and chips are very popular on this side of the Atlantic, too. Quarter Celtic’s fish and chips (available in whole and half portions of beer-battered fried fish served on a bed of chips (fries) with a side of coleslaw) are a good option. A half-order consists of one golden-hued plank of flaky, tender fish. Though the housemade tartar sauce is quite good, a hearty dousing of malt vinegar is my preferred way of enjoying fish and chips. The chips have that nice absorbing quality that good chips should have. The coleslaw didn’t have much personality other than a nice crunch.
12 March 2023: One aspect of the Quarter Celtic dining experience you can beat is the menu. It provides actually useful descriptions of each item, not some complicated phalanx of ingredients. Here’s how that menu describes the Trip-Dip Fried Platter: “Bringing together food from places as diverse as Louisiana and Texas, this platter is a must-order combo: our famous fried fish strips, popcorn shrimp, and house-made onion rings. Everything is golden, crispy, and fried to perfection. Served with tartar, house basil-hot sauce, and remoulade dipping sauce, it doesn’t get any better than this.” Alas, the platter reads better than it tastes. The two seafood items are better than you’d get at Long John Silver’s, but not nearly what you’d experience along any of the fruited plains’ coastlines. It’s too easy to point out we live in a landlocked state. Diners would gladly pay a bit more for higher quality seafood.
12 March 2023: Here’s how the menu describes the Brewer’s Beef Sandwich: “The savory of American-style roast beef sandwiches has been enjoyed since 1877, with the dish under the name of “beefsteak toast.” Also, a specialty in Boston, Massachusetts, starting in the 1950s, this hearty sandwich is typically doused with gravy. However, we give a spin to the classic roast beef sandwich, especially for the most hard-working brewers. Our Brewer’s Beef Sandwich features thinly-sliced roasted beef topped with beer-braised onions, provolone, and horseradish dressing for a sweet yet strong note. Enjoy this savory treat on fresh and locally made sourdough.”
It’s a good sandwich with a lot going for it. The lightly toasted bread is a perfect canvas for fresh shards of roast beef. A generous amount is provided. Ditto for the beer-braised onions. A penurious portion of horseradish was my sole complaint. My preference would be for horseradish strong enough to water my eyes and make my eyes run. This horseradish was innocuous for my Kim to enjoy and she thinks ketchup is piquant. A good horseradish cuts through the richness of roast beef to provide a more balanced profile. It’s the way I learned to enjoy roast beef sandwiches in Massachusetts and my preference today.
12 March 2023: Here’s the menu’s description of the Classic Reuben: “Hearty, filling, and wholesome goodness sandwiched between two slices of rye bread. This rightfully beloved sandwich has two popular origin stories, A New York Deli vs. a hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. Our classic Reuben starts with a substantial pile of slow-braised corned beef cooked to perfection, Thousand Island dressing, and house-made purple kraut toasted on locally made marbled rye. All coming together with melted Swiss cheese.” “Substantial pile” is a subjective term apparently. My Kim and I both thought the portion of corned beef was rather chintzy. We weren’t in complete agreement on the Thousand Island dressing and house-made purple kraut. I thought both were too sweet. She could have enjoyed the corned beef covered in chocolate.
If an online English to Welsh translation program is to be believed, Quarter Celtic would be translated to “chwarter Celtaidd” in the Celtic language of Welsh. By any name and in any language, the Quarter Celtic is a very good option when you want to feel like you’re somewhere near the North Sea.
Quarter Celtic Brewpub
1100 San Mateo Blvd. N.E., Suite 50
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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LATEST VISIT: 12 March 2023
1st VISIT: 29 September 2018
# OF VISITS: 2
BEST BET: Quarter Porter Stew, Fish & Chips, Classic Reuben,