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Side Dishes: Irish eatery opens in Upper Valley


Published March 9, 2011 at 6:07 a.m.

A new Upper Valley restaurant is dishing up éire-inspired cuisine for those who crave boxty from time to time.

Limerick Irish Eatery, which opened on March 1 in the post-and-beam building that used to house Maple Grove Bakery, has rolled out a full roster of Irish dishes, including beef-and-stout stew, corned-beef hash and soda bread.

Owner and chef Jessica Ryan, who grew up in an Irish American family in Michigan, named the 22-seat restaurant for the Irish county from which her family originates. Ryan, who has worked as assistant manager and server at the Tip Top Café in White River Junction, took the plunge after she viewed the former bakery space. “I’d been thinking about it for a long time, and I just decided to go for it,” she says.

Ryan’s husband, David, is a partner in the business, but because he’s deployed as a soldier in Afghanistan until July, Ryan launched it on her own. She redid the interior in seven weeks, moving the kitchen to the basement and building a loft. “Downstairs is more chic, while upstairs is homier,” she says.

Ryan mined the trove of family recipes for her menu, which runs the gamut from traditional Irish dishes to Irish-influenced comfort food. She sources ingredients from Black River Produce, but also taps the Emerald Isle for a few specialties: black and white pudding and Irish porridge are shipped directly across the Atlantic.

Diners who hit Limerick in the morning may not need to eat for the rest of the day: A full Irish breakfast includes eggs, bacon rashers, sausage, black pudding, tomatoes and soda bread. The morning menu also features boxty; the traditional Irish potato pancakes are served with butter and honey.

At supper, hearty traditional Irish dishes such as braised sausages with mashed potatoes and shepherd’s pie proliferate. The meat loaf is also wildly popular, says Ryan. “I have to make it twice a day.”

Ryan is sharing chef duties with Ed Fontaine, who has cooked at the Peavine Restaurant in Stockbridge and Molly’s Restaurant & Bar in Hanover, N.H.

By her grand opening on St. Patrick’s Day, Ryan should have her license to sell wine and beer, and she’ll be pouring Irish brews such as Guinness and Harp alongside some local ones.