Scruffy Murphy’s: Not Scruffy, Very Murphy

Living in and around Chicago, IL for the first twenty-six years of my life, I got a good sense of what it takes to operate a successful Irish pub.

It’s one of those things that seems incredibly easy, but isn’t. There’s an art form to a place like Cork & Kerry on Western Avenue, where Guinness is always on tap and most nights a crusty old Irish gent is crooning folk songs in the corner. Too much ambiance, and it’s Bennigan’s; not enough, and it’s boring.

Scruffy Murphy’s seems well on its way to becoming a great Irish pub. I’ve been twice, once on a Saturday afternoon for a beer and fries, and then again on a Sunday for lunch. Both were great experiences. On both occasions, the place was relatively empty, but I didn’t exactly show up at peak Irish pub action times; the real test for Scruffy will be how it feels at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in May.

I’d say they’ve got the decor just about right; it’s all dark oak and splashes of green, with enough ornamentation to make it seem lived-in, but not so much that it feels like “flair.” A large shamrock-shaped table greets you as you enter the bar; to your left, a narrow seating area leads you to one of the two bars. Go straight ahead, and it’s more seating (booths alongside each wall) till you get to the back room, where tables surround a more open space dominated by a second bar and a pool table. Widescreen TVs litter the landscape.

On both occasions, the service was excellent–friendly, easygoing, prompt. The beer was cold and refreshing even in our recent sub-50s weather.

The real star on Sunday, however, was the food. My assumption before a close inspection of the menu was that we’d be eating typical bar food–burgers, sandwiches, and fries. They’ve got that, but there’s also some traditional Irish fare, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to enjoy some Bangers and Mash.

Good LORD was it delicious. Onion gravy smothered three tightly-packed mild sausages, all atop a pile of mashed potatoes. The perfect forkful was a bit of sausage encased in a fluffy pile of potatoes, with a little piece of onion thrown in for flavor. On a chilly day, it was just about the perfect lunch. My father-in-law tried a boxty, some kind of potato pancake creation involving meat, and though we didn’t discuss it much, his clean plate would seem to indicate he enjoyed his meal fine too.

I live in College Park, about ten minutes’ walk from Scruffy Murphy’s, so I’m rooting for it out of a purely selfish desire to have a good local pub and restaurant where we can nip off for a weekend lunch, or take friends and family when they’re in town. For those who aren’t strictly in the neighborhood, I think it’s well worth a trip; bring a wife or a girlfriend, and get a good beer buzz before she drags you into the scattered shops along Edgewater that sell random “cute” crap. Even better–let her do the shopping while you polish off a beer and watch the game. I can think of far worse ways to spend a Saturday.

Scruffy Murphy’s
2625 Edgewater Drive in Orlando

3 Comments so far

  1. Terry Howard (unregistered) on January 21st, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    Other good Irish pubs are Fiddler’s Green (http://www.fiddlersgreenorlando.com) and a little place called Claddagh Cottage in a strip mall on Curry Ford near Conway Road.


  2. Michelle S. (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2008 @ 1:59 am

    I ate at Fiddler’s Green once about two years ago and wasn’t that impressed. It was ok, but didn’t make me want to go back. I know others that love the place, though.


  3. Matt (unregistered) on January 22nd, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

    I drive by Fiddler’s Green a lot and would love to check it out. It seems like that new Irish place over at Downtown Disney sounds pretty good too.



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