Mrs. Murphy and Sons Irish BistroAddress: 3905 N. Lincoln Avenue
Mrs. Murphy and her sons officially celebrate St. Patrick’s day from March 1-17. But hungry people looking for satisfying portions of comfort food served with a side of warm hospitality know that the Irish spirit lives on throughout the year in their Northcenter restaurant.
The Irish bistro was the vision of Jim Murphy, owner and operator of the nigh-famous Murphy’s Bleachers in Wrigleyville before his untimely death in 2003. In a town where you can hardly walk a mile before stumbling across an Irish-themed pub, the former Chicago police officer thought the city lacked a restaurant that reflected current trends in Irish cuisine.
Sadly, he never had the chance to see his dream fulfilled (the restaurant opened in 2005). But his wife Beth and sons James and Brian Murphy have transformed the former funeral home at 3905 N. Lincoln into a large-yet-welcoming neighborhood gathering spot complete with a pool room, a banquet facility, a roaring fireplace and a grand, hand-carved central bar imported from County Wexford.
While I wouldn’t put them in the same category as other bistros in Lincoln Square, they have successfully put together a menu that goes beyond familiar pub grub and makes good use of Irish ingredients now available in the U.S.
The restaurant’s tagline is “contemporary Irish cuisine in a traditional setting” however, I never saw barbecue during my travels in Ireland (they are very proud of their ribs). They do, however, offer servings of fish-n-chips, corned beef and cabbage, and shepherd’s pie that hit pretty close to the mark. Not surprisingly, they also offer well-known Irish beers and whiskeys, and most importantly Magner’s (a.k.a. Bulmer’s) cider.
I actually find brunch to be the most enticing meal when the kitchen cranks out piles of corn beef hash “benedict” ($8.50) and fresh omelets ($7.5-$8.50) in addition to many of the dinner offerings. On dreary mornings I dream of the bubbling hot cauldron of steel cut oatmeal brulee with cinnamon cream ($7.50). That’s also the best time of the week to snag a spot in front of the fireplace.