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CHEAP EATS

Eating Irish in Newton

(Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / October 27, 2010

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My husband thinks Mick Morgan’s needs to throw a yard sale, but he doesn’t understand that that’s where they probably bought the stuff in the first place. On a rafter above the dining room, a spinning wheel and hundreds of other grandma’s-attic paraphernalia sit side-by-side. Little framed photos, ads, and cartoons line the walls. It’s supposed to be nostalgic.

The thing about Mick Morgan’s is that it’s meant to be an Irish pub, but it’s a museum of kitsch with an American menu and just a few Irish specialties. In order to cook here, you need to be good with an ice cream scoop; big, perfectly round orbs of mashed potatoes come with many dishes and while some are well made, the effect is school cafeteria.

We decide to see if we can eat Irish. That means passing up chicken tenders, hot wings, tortilla chips, turkey Cobb wrap, Buffalo chicken wrap, lobster ravioli, and more, some with Irish names.

Kerryman chicken and potato soup ($4.95) is really a thinned chicken pot pie filling with a fine tasting broth. In a section marked “chef’s specialties,’’ we choose Irish bangers and mash ($9.95), shepherd’s pie ($10.95), and “Ma McGrath’s Irish stew’’ ($10.95). The little pork sausages are deep-fried (gasp), but the mash is decent. You can imagine someone dining on this at a pub in the ould sod. Shepherd’s pie (pictured) is quite a decent version with a homemade sauce of carrots, peas, and onions. Big scoops of potato decorate the top, though the dish would be infinitely better if the potatoes had been spread, as in the classic recipe. Ma McGrath, your stew, which we were expecting simmered with lamb, comes with some tough and some meltingly tender chunks of beef. How can that happen?

Ploughman’s potato skins ($8.95) are topped with cheddar and bacon, very crisp little spuds with sour cream for dipping. A turkey dinner special ($14.95), which promises thick slices of turkey and homemade stuffing, delivers; it’s a fine dish. Fish and chips ($12.95) are golden, crusty, and flaky.

Brownie sundae ($4.50) is composed of an ordinary chocolate square, ice cream, and too much whipped cream that tastes and looks canned. Servers do a good job and the place is often full. Ma McGrath, tell Mick he owes it to you to get your dish and others up to par.

MICK MORGAN’S

118 Needham St., Newton Highlands, 617-795-0136, www.mick morgans.com. All major credit cards. Wheelchair accessible.

Prices Appetizers $4.50-$13.95. Sandwiches, salads, entrees $7.95-$18.95.

Desserts $3.95-$5.50.

Hours Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sun 9 a.m.-1 a.m.

Liquor Full bar.

May we suggest chicken and potato soup, potato skins, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, turkey dinner (special).