First things first, I’ve only visited The Irish House for lunch, so this review is for lunch only. With that out of the way, let’s discuss The Irish House.
Is New Orleans a suitable environment for a refined Irish restaurant? My answer: yes and no. Most of the flavor profiles of the dishes I’ve had weren’t bad, and while they may stay true to their Irish roots, the concept is odd.
In my opinion, Irish food doesn’t need refining. It’s meant to be simple food for simple people. Unfortunately, all the dishes I’ve had were too conceptualized and overthought. But, like I said, nothing tasted bad, so there’s that.
My favorite appetizer is the Bacon and Cheese Croquettes. Served with an onion marmalade and chive sour cream, these little croquettes are (not surprisingly) like little fried baked potatoes. They’re worth ordering, but could use some more cheese or maybe just a sharper variety. I wanted the cheese flavor to accentuated the croquettes more than it did.
While the Tomato Barbecued Chicken and Waffles I ordered were my favorite thing, I’m not sure they truly qualify as Irish food. Chicken and waffles are somewhat trendy in today’s culinary landscape and Chef Matt Murphy at The Irish has given his version a unique twist.
It’s a savory waffle topped with barbecued chicken, ratatouille and caramelized onion. The only portion of the dish I couldn’t really get behind was the ratatouille. It didn’t add anything for me, but didn’t necessarily take anything away from the dish. Overall though, the barbecue sauce is the perfect sweet sauce for the chicken and the waffle.
The Shepherd’s Pie (a traditional Irish dish) has gotten rave reviews from some of my friends, but it wasn’t the biggest hit with me. First, the portion is entirely too small for an $11 portion of a dish comprised of mashed potatoes, ground beef, peas, carrots and pearl onions. To me, this is an example of paying for refinement and presentation over taste and ingredients.
Another issue I took with the Shepherd’s Pie is that the ground beef is too fine. While I realize that’s a personal preference, it made it hard to keep the beef on the fork because it was so fine.
I really did enjoy the addition of pearl onions into the Shepherd’s Pie. It gave the dish a nice sweet element to counterbalance the saltiness from the beef, mashed potatoes and cheese.
As a general rule, it’s a safe bet to order anything involving potatoes. The Irish House has potatoes perfected.
The Irish House has an awesome beer selection including, you guessed it, Guinness. So it’s 100% a stop in if you’re looking for a pint. I haven’t had a chance to sample the bar menu, but I’m hoping it’s nitty gritty bar food versus the refined dishes I’ve had at lunch.
Overall, I can’t complain about the food at The Irish House other than it being overrefined. Chef Murphy came over after a stint at the Ritz-Carlton so I imagine he brought techniques and processes with him typical to the audience the Ritz attracts — I just don’t know if I see The Irish House attracting the same crowd.
So the moral of the review is to drop in for a pint, watch a game, have some food, but just be ready for refined Irish food that may not be similar to what you’ve had in a more traditional Irish pub.
The Irish House is located at 1432 St. Charles Avenue. Dining room hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.