By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski Photos by Kimberly Carrillo
Skeptical Chymist has happy hour seven days a week.
Trevor Kingston says owning Skeptical Chymist Irish Restaurant and Bar has been an uphill struggle.
“People don’t know the difference between shepherd’s pie and cottage pie,” he says with a laugh, as Seattle Seahawks fans gather near him to watch a Sunday afternoon game.
“Shepherd’s pie doesn’t have beef in it. I always ask them, ‘Do shepherds herd cattle?”
Kingston, who moved to the United States in 1996 thanks to a green card lottery, opened the restaurant 11 years ago. When the Airpark-area eatery celebrated its 10-year anniversary, Kingston sent a couple on an all-expenses-paid trip to Ireland.
Skeptical Chymist is Kingston’s second restaurant; he also owns Fibber Magees in Chandler.
“We built our own restaurant in Chandler in 2003,” he says. “Shortly afterward, we realized there wasn’t an Irish pub in Scottsdale. We couldn’t find anywhere to rent or lease in 2006. Finding a commercial property at a reasonable rate was nonexistent. We’ve been here 11 years. In the restaurant business, that’s quite an achievement.”
Kingston’s No. 1 priority is food, something the staff constantly evolves and tweaks. The menu emphasizes modern Irish food. Among the items on the menu: spicy chicken curry with onions, peas, spicy curry sauce and rice pilaf ($14.79); Celtic pot stickers, with corned beef, bacon, cabbage, fresh ginger, sesame oil, wrapped in wontons and fried, served with Szechwan dipping sauce ($10.79); and corned beef and cabbage with mustard onion demi glaze ($11.49/$14.49). The corned beef is made, per Kingston’s specifications, by Shannon’s Deli Meats in Peoria. The Butcher’s Block features grilled lamb cutlets, black puddings, Irish banger, braised pork belly, grilled seasonal vegetable skewers and mint dipping sauce ($16.79). Kingston says the Irish are known for their soups.
“That’s how shepherd’s pie was created,” Kingston says. “You’d have your leg of lamb on Sunday. You’d eat the majority of it, take what’s left on the bone and cut it up – even if it’s fat – and put it in a pie. You just add gravy and root vegetables and put potato over the top.”
Skeptical Chymist, he says, offers quality products at a fair price. It goes beyond the standard restaurant or bar.
“Most people go to the bar after the movies,” he says. “We want people to come here for the whole night. They have a bite to eat. They see a band come on. They stay and listen, have a ‘Car Bomb’ and all of a sudden, they look at their watch and it’s midnight.”
A Car Bomb is a glass of Guinness the height of a shot glass. Pour a half an ounce of Jameson Irish Whiskey and a half an ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream. Drop the shot glass into the beer and drink. Skeptical Chymist has happy hour seven days a week.
“We offer the whole night out for you. A lot of Irish pubs in Ireland don’t offer food,” he adds.
Food and drink aside, Skeptical Chymist is known as an apothecary-themed eatery. He received items for the restaurant from the wife of Phoenix Poison Control’s founder.
“I asked her how much she wanted, and she said nothing,” he adds. “She gave me the medical kits and the jars that are around here.”
Kingston enjoys taking customers around the restaurant and telling the stories behind the trinkets that line the walls.
“My thing is to meet people and give them a taste of Ireland when they walk in the door,” he says. “They can leave a strip mall in 115-degree weather and say, ‘I feel like I’m in Ireland.’ The staff doesn’t have to be Irish, but they do have to provide good service to the customers and give them an authentic Irish experience.”