All set for the big game at McMurphy’s Irish Pub

Monday, 17th October, 2011

The NFL is a big boost to the restaurant/bar business. Sure, you can get “NFL Sunday Ticket” if you have DirecTV, but nothing beats the Sunday ritual of cheering for your favorite overpaid millionaires in the presence of fellow jersey-wearing fans.

Ian Snelleman, right, tends the bar at McMurphy's Irish Pub.

For those who prefer a quieter option with some exceptional food, we offer up McMurphy’s Irish Pub on Monterey Street, just east of Union Avenue near the Highway 178. A reader tipped us off to the place in an email, telling us that “a couple of young culinary grads have set up shop in the remodeled pub and call themselves Culinary Creations. The menu is small but very sufficient: from four to five appetizers to the same in Irish fare. Their mission statement is along the lines of bye-bye bar food, hello ‘FRESH.’ All sauces, dips, dressings are made daily.”

We wanted to get dinner there, but, at this point, food is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. only — and on Sundays during NFL games. So we dropped in then. The crowd was small — a few Bills and Saints fans watching the early games. The bartender warned us that catering jobs meant some menu items, such as the breakfast burrito and wings, weren’t available, but he did recommend the McMurphy’s burger ($9) and the pit pork sandwich ($9). One piece of wisdom I cling to is to always listen to the bartender in such an establishment, as his tips depend on reliable advice.

How good is it? The perfection is everywhere, even in something as small as the ketchup served with the waffle-cut sweet potato fries brought out with our sandwiches.

I couldn’t tell if it was fresh made (it’s been a long time since I was at a restaurant that made its own ketchup) but at a minimum it was doctored up with something that brought a little heat. It was a spicy, dark red ketchup, and it was good. To say nothing of the amazing fries, which were thinner than most waffle cuts but a perfect treatment with sweet potatoes and sprinkled with fresh parsley. Who puts that much care into a side dish? Apparently McMurphy’s does.

Both sandwiches were so delectable we began scheming on when we could get a return visit, even with our busy daytime schedules. The burger was made with toasted sourdough bread, and the patty was juicy and thick (had to be 8 ounces, hand formed) and good enough to be in contention for that best burger package we did over the summer. The cheese was medium cheddar, melted perfectly. Due to the catering demands, they were out of bacon and guacamole, but they threw on a slice of ham to replace it. The sandwich didn’t suffer. Though I wasn’t consuming beer at that hour, it would be perfect with a Newcastle (available on tap).

My companion’s pork sandwich was similarly charming. She loved the grilled bun, saying even the French roll smelled good. The pork looked as if it had been grilled or reheated in some fashion, as some strands were crunchy and some were soft and moist. What this added to the texture was definitely a plus. Also, this poor boy had pickled purple cabbage on it and a mild cheddar. Both came with a fresh green salad (complete with halved cherry tomatoes), but a fork was not presented with the plates. A regrettable faux pas.

[…]

On the way out, I noticed the Man Cave. There’s a small room to the side complete with a flat-screen TV and comfortable sofa chairs. This is the perfect place to watch the game. I imagine it’s available on a reservation basis. Four games were visible at one time as we sat in the bar, and it was fun to keep your eye on all of them simultaneously. From the website I learned that the bricks used in the bar (which has an atmosphere similar to Alley Cat or Sandrini’s downtown — aged, but respectably so) were salvaged from the 1952 earthquake and that the neon sign is more than 100 years old.

Other than the fork, the service was attentive from the amiable bartender, who seemed to be the only employee in the front of the house.

McMurphy’s Irish Pub can be recommended for a fine dining experience.

Source: The Bakersfield Californian [excerpt]

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