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Ian McNulty on the opening of Matt Murphy's Irish House



  Chef Matt Murphy has opened his new restaurant, the Irish House (1432 St. Charles Ave., 595-6755), taking over the former location of Taqueros y Coyoacan. Murphy, a native of Dublin, previously was executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, where he was responsible for the luxury hotel's overall culinary operations and oversaw M Bistro, the flagship restaurant the Ritz opened (and named in his honor) in 2010. He left the Ritz in March and began working on this new venture.

  After an extensive renovation, the formerly Mexican-themed restaurant space in the Lower Garden District now has the look and feel of an Irish pub (albeit one with climate-appropriate high ceilings). Irish House does feature such sturdy pub grub standards as Irish stew, shepherd's pie and fish and chips, which are on the lunch menu and a bar menu. But Murphy's kitchen is largely centered on more sophisticated fare, much of it prepared with locally sourced staples from eggs to beef.

  There are appetizers like lamb belly and a truffled chicken tart with wild mushrooms and smoked gouda, while the entree list includes shrimp and artichoke risotto, duck stuffed with figs and brie, and herb-crusted redfish. Lunch entrees and sandwiches range from $8 to $15, while dinner entrees are between $18 and $24.

  "The idea is like the places back home (in Ireland) where the carpenters and the working men would come in and get their pint and their stew at the bar, but in the same place you can do something a little more at dinner, bring the family, that sort of thing," Murphy says.

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