Murphy’s law

Getting lucky at Murphy’s Irish Pub & Grille

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Murphy’s Platter, featuring pub chips, fried pickles, boneless chicken wings and pretzels with Guinness cheese sauce

As I write this, it’s 303 days, 10 hours and 8 minutes until St. Patrick’s Day. I know this because a running countdown is the first thing you’ll see if you go to Murphy’s Irish Pub’s website. Of course, the restaurant is already promoting it because few people think of going out for corned beef and cabbage the other 364 days a year. But take notice Dayton because the food at Murphy’s is good enough to change that attitude.


We arrived at Murphy’s, located at the end of a shopping strip on Wilmington Pike in Dayton early on a Saturday evening. In tow as usual was PIP (Palate In Progress) and The Pharaoh of Finance (TPOF), a wily banker with an appetite for more than just dollars. The restaurant’s generic interior embodied the same ambiance and lack of individual charm as most chain-style dining rooms. “Irish pub” conjures up cozy images of old carved wood and brass accents. The space offered no indication that this place would serve real Irish-style cuisine. The front door is even a veneered decal of a wooden pub door. Passing over this threshold, we all had expectations that the food would probably be equally as inauthentic. Turns out, we were wrong.

Boxty and bangers

Our first hint came when we saw on the menu boxty, bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie and colcannon. Stay with me if you don’t know what these are. We tried most of them and were pleasantly surprised and satisfied with Murphy’s versions of these Irish classics. We began with appetizers suggested by our friendly but not terribly competent waiter. His recommendation of the day’s soup ($3.99), a Kentucky chicken and vegetable stew he didn’t know the name of turned out to be Burgoo, as I guessed. And it was a great recommendation as TPOF and I both found out, hearty and so thick your spoon can stand up alone in it. As a larger portion, it could have been a dinner special. PIP was pleasantly surprised by the creamy Tomato Soup ($3.99), with its thick consistency and a note of basil.

If you want to sample a wee bit of moonshine, Murphy’s is known for a good selection of beer and Irish whiskeys. We sampled neither, but I decided on the house Sauvignon Blanc. Our hapless server insisted the red wine he brought was the wine I had ordered but later apologized for confusing it with Cabernet Sauvignon. While he was full of enthusiasm and suggestions, he could certainly have used more training.

Pretzel logic

For appetizers, The Murphy’s Platter ($13.99) and the Rueben Egg Rolls ($8.99) were absolute winners. TPOF dipped the crisp egg roll wrappers stuffed with corned beef, cheese and crunchy sauerkraut into an accompanying Thousand Island dressing dip and enjoyed every bite. The platter featured seasoned pub chips, fried pickles, boneless chicken wings and pretzels. I wouldn’t have picked the platter without encouragement. I’m not a huge fan of pretzels, usually finding them leaden and unpleasantly tough and chewy. These pretzels, however, were browned crusty outside and surprisingly light and airy inside. We used them to scrape up every bit of the Guinness cheese sauce and could have eaten more. While the other platter items were fine, it’s the pretzels that stand out. I would suggest ordering them as a stand-alone appetizer at $8.99.

Though nearly stuffed already, we were primed for the main event: Some real Irish food, starting with boxty and bangers and mash. Boxty, a thin potato pancake (think Irish crepe) is served here stuffed and rolled with various fillings. TPOF tried the Corned Beef and Cabbage Boxty ($13.99) and only regretted doing so due to overdoing it on the Rueben Egg Rolls. Having already tasted the corned beef, a better option might have been the boxty with chicken or salmon (there’s even a vegetarian one). However, this one was served with a buttery cabbage and topped with an herb sauce and caramelized onion instead of sauerkraut, and, we all agreed, it was tasty.

Cavalcade of cabbage

Along with the boxty comes one side. Don’t miss the colcannon, as TPOF learned from experience. It’s a traditional Irish potato dish with buttered cabbage and cream mixed in. Though basic and almost bland sounding, this is the side to try. The cabbage was sweet, with the added texture of a few potato skins in the mix.

I went for the bangers and mash ($12.99), a pyramid of three grilled sausages and a grilled tomato over white cheddar mashed potatoes topped with brown gravy. The mild sausages had a very fine ground texture, and the potatoes were savory and substantial. Hopefully with the season changing, the grilled tomatoes will be riper than the one topping my dish. PIP’s Harp Battered Fish and Chips ($13.99) was one of the best we’ve tried, with thick slabs of flaky white fish and crunchy fried breading.

Though nearly at capacity, we finished with a pleasant bread pudding ($5.99) and a fairly standard chocolate swirl cheesecake ($6.99). PIP, TPOF and I were in no shape to dance an Irish jig after the heft of this meal, but we left feeling pleasantly surprised and satisfied.

Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong it probably will. In the case of Murphy’s Irish Pub & Grille, I’d say it’s time to reverse that axiom. With a little luck o’ the Irish, if you close your eyes, you just might think you’re in a little pub in County Cork. And that’s no Blarney!

Murphy’s Irish Pub & Grille is located at 6204 Wilmington Pike Rd. in Dayton. For more information, please visit or call 937.848.6999.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

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