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834 Inlet Square Drive Murrells Inlet, South Carolina 29576 843.651.7211

shephards Pie
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 Setting the Table

Irish eyes are smiling at O'Keefe's Irish Pub. No, really - the warm, friendly welcome that embraced us when we walked through the door on the bar side of this new establishment was warmer than two shots of Irish whiskey. And it felt good.

With my two-tyke sidekicks and parents along for dinner, we looked to the left of the bar and lounge to find a decent dining area flanked by pool tables and video games, which was where we would settle in for the night. But before that, a chorus of, "How are you? Sit at any table you'd like! Oh no, our highchairs didn't come in yet!" The bartender (owner's son), server (owner's son's girlfriend) and husband-wife owners (they all introduced themselves later), standing tableside, seemed sincerely concerned about how comfortable my 2-year-old would be sitting at the table without a highchair or booster seat. It was encouraging to know they weren't the kind of Irish pub that just worried about the keg of Guinness being tapped out, but the wee patrons as well.

Down the Hatch

We all knew it was mandatory to prep our palate for St. Patrick's Day cuisine while at O'Keefe's. The leprechaun green walls were a stern reminder. But to start, we bypassed the stout and went with bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon ($1.50 each), a glass of white zinfandel ($3.50) at happy hour prices, as well as a large, lidded cup of milk for the wee lad ($2).

Mom ordered a cup of the Irish Stew ($2.95), a hearty blend of cubed beef, carrots, onions and Irish potatoes in a Guinness broth. She was pleased and practically full after that half-meal in itself, but managed to go on to eat half of her hot corned beef sandwich ($7.95), home-cooked, thinly sliced and stacked high with a smear of hot pub mustard on marble rye. The corned beef flavor and thickness, she said, was perfection. And the handful of homemade chips were satisfyingly seasoned.

I went with an Irish classic: Shepherd's Pie ($8.95) - and this one had the added label of being "O'Keefe's famous," so I knew I had to be in for a real winner. Served hotter than a hot Irish potato in a large ceramic crock, this pie was exactly the kind of home-cooked comfort food I needed. The layers of seasoned ground beef, homemade mashed potatoes, sweet peas, Guinness gravy and cheddar cheese were every lass's dream. The fresh baked Irish soda bread with raisins was a nice touch, too, served on the side.

Dad stayed stateside with the O'Keefe's Famous Steak and Cheese Philly sandwich ($8), an overstuffed white hoagie roll of chipped steak, mozzarella cheese, seasoned lettuce, tomato chunks, onions, and sweet and banana peppers. Not a crumb remaining in the waxed paper-lined basket was all the evidence needed to assure us it was a scrumptious choice.

And for the wee one, O'Keefe's graciously halved an appetizer of four chicken tenders down to two (originally $7.95; for us, $2.95) with a cup of barbecue dipping sauce, plus threw in a handful of homemade chips. Nicely done and much appreciated.

Check, Please

Inside the industrial warehouse-like building, O'Keefe's is warm, inviting and boasting a delightful menu of Irish classics, as well as the bar standards such as burgers and wings.

Entertainment is also served here weekly after dinnertime, near a little square dance floor, under a row of green theatre lights, where the dining tables are located. I just might return for this, another round of warm hugs from the owners and partake in O'Keefe's Seven Course Irish Dinner (six domestic drafts and one boiled potato) on St. Patrick's Day.

O'Keefe's Irish Pub is at 834 Inlet Square Drive, Murrells Inlet. Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. For additional info, call 651-7211 or visit www.okeefespub.net.

 

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