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Chef’s dream of peddling pies in a pub comes true

Written by John Darling for the Tidings

October 30, 2015

Owner and chef Neil Clooney of Smithfield’s Restaurant & Bar has always dreamed of opening a country pie shop, the sort he grew up with in England, with yummy pies full of meats and veggies — and guaranteed to fortify body and soul for the day.

Well, Clooney, two-time winner as Iron Chef of Oregon, finally did it. Across the street from his Second Street restaurant, he and his wife, Claire, have just opened Smithfield’s Pub & Pies, a “traditional English pub,” where Paddy Brannan’s Irish Pub used to be.

They’ve painted the front bright red, put up a very English-looking white tile wall behind the counter and generally spruced things up.

“Our signature pie,” says Claire, “is the steak and ale pie with rosemary and cheddar.” Others include a chicken-curry pie, halibut and a vegetarian model. All come with an array of vegetables: carrots, celery, onion. They also make a gluten-free pie.

All the pies are baked in individual sizes — that is, enough dinner or lunch for one. Pies are $9 to $11. Appetizers include pickled, deviled beetroot, curry roasted cashews, warm olives with smoky blue cheese, pickled vegetables and sausage rolls, all for $6 or under. Fruit pies are available in season.

The shop offers many Engish beers, including Tetleys, Boddingtons, Old Speckled Hen, Newcastle Brown Ale, Bass Pale Ale, St Peters IPA, and Sam Smiths Organic Pale Ale and Oatmeal Stout.

The spot retains its old seating — tables and the bar, with large-screen sporting events at either end. The Rugby World Cup is starting now, they note.

“He always would dream of having a pie-centric pub since he was a kid and now he’s quite happy,” Claire says, noting the focus is much more on food than in the pub’s previous incarnation. Sales are about half food and half beer and bar.

Cloony also is a two-time top chef of Ashland Culinary Festival in 2007 and 2008. He will still be chef at Smithfield’s up the hill, where pies are prepped.

His shop opened Oct. 23 and is open midday to midnight. There will be karaoke and trivia nights. It’s at 23 S. Second St. Details are on its Facebook page.