Drunken pork ribs, Guinness-dipped wings and Guinness-glazed salmon completed a St Patrick’s Day (SPD) feast at Stages on the Avenue last Friday.

The restaurant, known for its twists on local favourites, embraced Guinness’s 12-day SPD celebration, from March 10 to 21, serving up a number of sauces, batters and desserts in ode to the famous Irish stout.

Owner Jean-Marc Aimey said Stages’s “Oh My Gu’nness Glaze” is already a favourite among their diners and it was just a matter of utilising it in creative culinary ways for the SPD promotion.

“The Guinness brand has been one of our sponsors from inception. So, on designing our restaurant menu we intentionally included Guinness infusions in key items.

“The taste profile was targeted at both Guinness drinkers as well as non-drinkers. So for the St Patrick’s Day promotion it was easy for us to isolate the Guinness-infused items from our menu, which actually were some of our best sellers, and to also add a few new items,” Aimey explained.

Everyone within ear shot ordered Stages OMG It’s Not Pholourie and Fry-Yay wings served with their signature Oh My Gu’ness Glaze when the Express visited the quaint Ariapita Avenue restaurant last Friday.

The “Not Pholourie” which is actually made from split peas is a gluten-free favourite at the restaurant. The spicey balls admittedly had a grainer texture than pholourie, but tasted just as good if not better, especially after being dipped in Stages Guinness-infused tamarind sauce.

“The OMG It’s Not Pholourie was an item that we developed specifically to allow persons with special dietary requirements to have a place at Stages and to enjoy our cuisine. It is a vegan item that can also be consumed by persons with allergies and intolerances to gluten amongst other things,” Aimey explained.

The show must go on

It has been a massive challenge navigating a live performance venue through the global pandemic, Aimey admitted.

Before Covid-19, Stages hosted soloist and group acts ranging from singers to comedians and spoken word to live bands.

Unfortunately, the popular performance venue was closed in March of 2020 following the initial Government-imposed health and safety restrictions.

While other establishments stayed afloat with takeaway service the inability to provide guests with their unique in-house experience cost the niche restaurant.

“Attempting to do deliveries and curbside pickup as a relatively new establishment was futile, especially as our focus was experiential dining and liming. Having good relationships with our creditors allowed us to stay alive and reopen in late December 2020, just in time for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period,” he explained.

All the restaurants socially distanced tables both inside and out on the patio were filled with parties of five and less last Friday. The kitchen and bar were busy—serving non-alcoholic drinks—and the wait staff looked overwhelmed.

Aimey said the steady trickle of business has been encouraging. He promised that given the opportunity the stage with be soon reopened for live performances at his restaurant.

“Currently, we are monitoring changes in the regulations and the economic feasibility, however, we do plan on resuming live entertainment very soon. This will once again enhance our diners’ experiences while holding true to our mandate to support the creative sector.

“Now that our kitchen has been reopened, thanks to the promotional opportunity presented by Trinidad and Tobago Restaurant Week and Guinness, we once again welcome patrons to our socially responsible establishment to enjoy our delicious favourites,” Aimey concluded.

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