Green beer and jello shots are as representative of Irish culture as a California roll symbolizes an authentic expression of Japanese sushi. Luckily New Orleans has adopted an Irishman of her own who has brought a certain level of credence to the city’s enthusiasm for the Emerald Isle. With the opening of the Irish House in August 2011, Dublin-born chef Matt Murphy set out to teach locals the virtue of a well-poured pint and offer a taste of the cuisine both of his homeland and of his past experience cooking in the Gulf South.
Past stints at Commander’s Palace and an extended stay at the Ritz-Carlton honed chef Murphy’s skills. But when it came time to open his own version of the Irish pub, the chef was, in his own words, “done with all that fancy shit.” So he found a two-story building on the corner of MLK and St. Charles Avenue, imported Irish bric-a-brac and added Guinness to the taps to create a comforting atmosphere reflected in the homey-ness and simplicity of the menu.
Start with a beer, preferably a pint of Guinness, the sweet nectar that also turns up in a thick and stout beef stew where tender meat, carrots and potatoes unite under the holy trinity of beer, beef stock and time with fabulous results. Other classic Irish fare abounds, including rosy slices of shaved corned beef curled atop “bubble and squeak”—a mash-up of leftover veggies that looks and tastes suspiciously like excellent creamy, lumpy, bumpy mashed potatoes. Fish and chips features long filets of cod deep fried in a tempura-like batter, while the perennial school lunch favorite shepherd’s pie is all grown up inside individual crocks filled with well-seasoned ground beef, those wonderful mashed potatoes in the middle and a thin layer of cheese melting over the top.
The weekday happy hour from 3 to 6 is perhaps the best way to experience the Irish House in all its glory. In addition to half-priced beer, wine and cocktails, the entire bar menu drops down to $6 per dish. There you will find the most unique set of wings in the city, which substitutes the fire-breathing bravado of traditional wings for a sticky sweet Abita beer sauce coating impeccably fried crust. Or try the bacon and cheese croquettes, crunchy fried balls of mashed potato topped with chive sour cream and placed in a sweet onion marmalade that doubles as a delicious spread for the complimentary slices of soda bread baked in-house.
As the entire city dons green attire on March 17, the Irish House will celebrate its heritage with a week of festivities leading up to St. Patrick’s Day. Many a Guinness will be poured and pounds of corned beef consumed.Address: 1432 St. Charles Ave.
Hours: Mon–Fri 11a–10p, Sat–Sun 7a–10p