Life of Reilly: new in Butchers Hill


December 20, 2006|By SLOANE BROWN

Baltimoreans do seem to have a particular fondness for Irish pubs. Now, they have one more - The Life of Reilly - to warm the cockles of their hearts.

In fact, the idea of a warm and inviting atmosphere was owner Crosby Healy's intent. A native Baltimorean who had spent years working in the fashion industry in California and Miami, Healy says he was looking for a way to come back to town. A big eBay fan, he says he actually found the former Simon's Pub up for sale there.

"My grandfather had owned Talucci's Tavern on Bel Air Road. So, I grew up with there always being a bar in the family. ... I was always a big fan of [the TV show] Cheers, and I wanted to create a Cheers-type atmosphere."

Healy says Simon's had a great following in its Butchers Hill neighborhood. He wanted to build on that.

"The Irish pub feeling is one of fun and good cheer. And living the life of Reilly denotes living well, doing what you want. I wanted to bring those feelings into the bar."

Healy says that meant sprucing and warming up the place a bit. Out went the old black-and-white tile floors. In came Brazilian hardwood. Exposed brick walls are balanced against soft greens and golds in the dining rooms.

But the centerpiece, the original bar with its copper top, is still there. The Irish touch is first apparent from the three flags hanging out front: American, Irish and either the Ravens or the Orioles (depending on the season).

Of course, there are several Irish beers on tap, along with a host of others. Think American warmth and good cheer first, Ireland second.

You'll especially find that sentiment reflected in The Life of Reilly's menu. There's a reason for that.

Says Healy, "For the first three months of working on this, I'd go out to eat. I went to a different Irish pub every night. I've been to them all [here], at least three times. The conclusion I came to [is that] people love Irish pubs because of the atmosphere. But they aren't exactly overwhelmed with the cuisine."

You'll find just a handful of Irish offerings on the mostly pub-style food list. Among the appetizers, the only one with a slightly Irish lilt is an Irish cheese sampler ($13.99).

Other appetizers include jumbo steamed shrimp (1 pound, $16.99); crab dip ($8.99); steak fries loaded with cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and scallions ($4.99); and fried calamari ($7.99).

There are a half-dozen salads, including Buffalo chicken salad ($8.99) and a wedge Cobb salad ($8.99).

Healy is of the firm belief that no local tavern should be without its crab cake, so you'll find it as both a sandwich and entree (market price). Other sandwiches include rib-eye steak with roasted red pepper and fresh mozzarella ($10.99); Reuben ($7.99); and seared ahi tuna ($12.99).

Ireland does make a slight appearance in the entree section in a shepherd's pie (made with beef instead of lamb, $11.99); fish and chips ($13.99) and Guinness Irish stew ($14.99).

Other choices include bacon-wrapped filet mignon served with chevre mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and caramelized onions ($25.99); and twin pork chops stuffed with corn-bread stuffing and finished with a peach-barbecue sauce ($15.99).

Healy says chef Bryan Perdue is "kind of a freak" about wanting people to walk away full. So portions are big. He says Perdue grew up on the Eastern Shore (yes, he's a distant cousin of the chicken moguls), so his crab cake is "killer." And he worked for a while as a pastry chef, so all five desserts, including three-mousse mud pie and bourbon vanilla creme brulee ($5.99 each), are homemade.

The Life of Reilly, 410-327-6425, is at 2031 Fairmount Ave. in Butchers Hill. Its hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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