They say the traditional French bistro is experiencing a comeback; something about a craving for stability in these otherwise crazy times. So it makes sense that the Irish pub, another European staple, would also be on the list for nostalgic diners. And the first sign of the revival in the Bay Area? The opening of Slainte, a new Irish establishment at Jack London Square, complete with whiskey cocktails, a menu full of surprises and upbeat musical performances.

We wanted to know, are Irish and British cuisines as similar as many think? What type of whiskeys do in-the-know Irishmen (and women) drink? And what’s boxty? We caught up with co-owner and Chef Jackie Gallanagh and chatted about the pub tradition, true Irish cuisine and, of course, Irish coffee.

Sun is shining and the doors are open. Come say hi 👋🏼 #goingforapint #whatsthecraic

A post shared by Sláinte Oakland (@slainteoakland) on

Can you explain the name?

Slainte is the old Irish Gaelic word for ‘Cheers’ or good health, so in Ireland, we raise a toast to good health “Slainte”, cheers! [Pronounced slahn-cha.]

How did the idea to open an Irish spot in Oakland come together?

Who doesn’t love a good Irish pub? In San Francisco, there are over a dozen Irish Pubs, mostly run by Irish people but there is not an authentic Irish pub in Oakland. I have lived in Oakland for 15 years, having moved from San Francisco. I missed not having a true Irish pub to go to. Oakland was in need of a traditional pub that offers authentic Irish fare and great classic cocktails. That’s when I decided to open my own spot.

What are the characteristics of Irish food as opposed to British food?

The UK ruled Ireland for many, many years and their food became ours, so there are many dishes that we both have. Fish n’ Chips are known as a British dish throughout the world, but Ireland also has a real love for them. The full Irish Breakfast also has its similarities but we add boxty, a special potato pancake, and black and white pudding, a traditional meat dish, that makes it stand out.

Shepard’s Pie with lamb is another true Irish dish. The British version of this is called Cottage Pie and it is made with ground beef. Slainte’s recipe is a special recipe made from different versions of the dish that either my aunts, friends, and grandparents had made. Then there’s the traditional soda bread. Mine has been a hit at Slainte and I have been asked if I will sell it by the loaf soon!

How big of a role does the whiskey selection play at Slainte?

The whiskey selection that we offer plays a big role! My business partner, co-owner & beverage director, Jenny Schwarz, put together a great selection of classic Irish cocktails and an extensive whiskey selection, including some names that guests might not have heard of before. For example, Powers Whiskey, which we use in the Irish coffee.

What are some of your favorite places in Oakland to eat and drink?

I love Hopscotch in Uptown Oakland, which is where I met Jenny. I love sipping on a cocktail at the bar while enjoying bites from Chef Kyle’s menu of American fare with Japanese influences. Sidebar Restaurant is also one of my favorite spots (I love their hamburgers!) and of course Yoshi’s for sushi. For breakfast and coffee, my go to spot is Cafe 817 in downtown Oakland.

Slainte, 131 Broadway, Oakland