Thursday, November 17, 2011
Turns out that next is the corner of St. Charles and MLK where the two story former home of Taqueros/Coyoacan/Stop 9 has undergone an extensive renovation to be reborn as The Irish House. Where once there was a cavernous, unadorned dining room there is now a refined yet welcoming space with Irish knickknacks of all sort covering the walls and dark woods with contrasting with large windows from which sunshine pours in. It's a great place to have lunch or a few pints and a bite after work (or stretch the former into the latter).
On my three visits thus far to The Irish House, each time the food and servce improved from the previous occassion. On the first visit, our server was very green but always smiling, which helped forgive the fact that we waited 45 minutes for our food from the time of ordering. Growing pains are to be expected, but it's tough to convince yourself to return for lunch when the majority of your time away from the office will be spent waiting on the food. On that day the Murphinator Po-Boy (below) came calling - cold roast beef topped with french fries and Crystal onion rings and served with a side of gravy. The long, thick cut fries and thin onion rings were the highlights of the sandwich, and the roast beef was above average quality. But the sandwich did not exactly come together. Had the roast beef been served hot, the po-boy would have been much improved. The side of coleslaw tomato salad tasted like a typical version with no discernible tomato component as advertised.
Such an experience does not exactly leave one with a desire to return, but (almost) everyone deserves a second chance. And The Irish House capitalized on those subsequent opportunities. Service exponentially improved, with our courses coming out at a brisk pace. The kitchen's execution was much more sharp - or perhaps I ordered better.
Chef Matt’s work with potatoes reinforces the stereotype that the Irish know best how to use them. Bacon and cheese croquettes (above) are crunchy fried balls of mashed potato topped with chive sour cream and a placed in a sweet onion marmalade that would be delicious spread on pieces of the complimentary house soda bread. Coarse and crumbly boudin is fried in a light batter and placed atop colcannon, a mash up of potato and softened cabbage, and then finished with a smoky tomato sauce. The Friday special of fish and chips brings long filets of cod in a tempura-like batter that is reminiscent of Houston’s chicken tenders (and I consider that a good thing). Fries are long, thick cut, not crispy but still worth ordering. Shepherd’s pie is a flawless rendition – a bottom layer of well seasoned ground beef with a few diced carrots and a green peas, those wonderful mashed potatoes in the middle, and a thin layer of cheese melted over the crock.
Although I have only been for lunch, The Irish House is a multi-faceted venture. The kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner beginning at 7am and ending at 10pm. While the downstairs dining room is reserved for seated service and bar patrons, apparently the upstairs area is a bit more lively with soccer matches early Saturday morning and live Irish music during the evening on Monday, Friday, and Saturday. And yes, Guinness and Harp are poured during all of the above.
The Irish House - Birdie
1432 St. Charles Ave.
Kitchen open daily 7am till 10pm