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Molly Maguire's Irish Restaurant & Pub
195 Bridge Street
Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
(610) 933-9550

If you've been contemplating a visit to the newly opened Molly Maguire's Irish Restaurant & Pub in Phoenixville for any purpose other than a leisurely sipping of the Emerald Isle's most famous liquid libations--Guinness, Harp, Smithwicks, Jameson, or Old Bushmills, for instance--I have a solid piece of advice: caveat emptor.

In any new restaurant, no matter how highly-touted or competently managed, you can always expect a glitch of two until the kitchen and members of the wait staff succeed in getting their act together. On the positive side, I must admit that the service does hang in there remarkably well, although the kitchen--even during a quiet weekday's late luncheon--moved along like a herd of turtles. The food, however, in several instances, was very nearly beneath contempt.

And let me hasten to add that the culinary faux pas committed here, especially during a recent dinner visitation, were completely inexcusable and obviously speak volumes with regard to the establishment's ultimate commitment to quality. The "Farmhouse Salad" ($5.00/$7.00), for example--incorporating bits of bacon, bleu cheese crumbles, tomato, and cucumber--looked good on paper. But the bed of mixed greens was tired & wilted, had obviously not been properly refrigerated in quite some time, and should never have been allowed to escape the confines of the kitchen.

Another starter, the bâttonets (literally, "sticks") of zucchini ($6.00), were decidedly generic and, unless I miss my guess, probably sprang full-blown from a frozen plastic pouch. The deep-fried tempura batter was far from ethereal, and the accompanying ramekin of horseradish-chive dressing came replete with a tiara of yellow film, a definite tip-off that it had been left to languish uncovered in the nether regions of the fridge.

Among the entrées, the traditional "Shepherd's Pie"--ground beef combined with carrots, celery, onions, and peas in gravy and topped with champ (mashed potatoes adorned with scallions)--was an unmitigated horror. The topping of lumpy mashed potatoes actually wasn't too bad; however, given the taste and incredible saltiness of the gravy, the kitchen must have dumped an entire bottle of Gravy Master into this completely inedible witch's brew.

The only semi-acceptable --though far from outstanding --main course proved to be the fish and chips ($13.00). The cod was of good quality, but the steak fries were inordinately soggy.

If you are absolutely overwhelmed by an irresistible impulse to try this place, I suggest that you keep things as simple as possible by going for one of the sandwiches or burgers. The "Hibernian Club" ($8.00)-- smoked turkey breast layered with Irish bacon, lettuce & tomato, and a generous slathering of mayo--is undoubtedly the least likely to cause any significant peristaltic indisposition... and it is accompanied by some excellent lightly battered shoestring fries (as opposed to the mushy versions cluttering up the aforementioned fish and chips).

According to a recent article, the proprietors, Messrs. Cummins and Mannion, invested a cool $3 million to renovate the structure at 195-197 Bridge Street. They obviously put a great deal of thought into the attractive recreation of the building's Victorian-style ambiance... If only they had put as much thought into the quality of the cuisine.

The Artful Diner
October 2007

The Artful Diner is an independent, freelance food writer.  His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.

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