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4 Daughters Irish Pub

4 Daughters Irish Pub opened with a bang five days before Christmas.

Invitations were sent and guests filed in by the dozens to enjoy quaffs and appetizers at a reception that was followed by live music by the house band, Three.

The following weekend, patrons were lined up on the sidewalk to try the fare at the new nightspot.

New, as in newly renovated. The building's history goes back to 1907, when it was built. The downtown Medford location has provided lodging for railroad workers, as well as housed a barbershop, a theater, a cards and billiards parlour, a cigar store and The Bijou, Medford's first movie theater.

It eventually became Christian Schempp's Beer Parlor and was renamed The Union Club in 1952. In 1998, Memories Antiques took up business at the location.

Pub owners Michael and Connie Sidon renovated the space while keeping the building's history in mind. The brick walls and heavy wooden beams are visible, and wooden furniture and pendant chandeliers fill the first floor.

But the real digs are on the second floor, where there is a second full-service bar, cozy seating arrangements around electric fireplaces, pool tables and widescreen TVs.

My spousal equivalent and I arrived at the pub early on a Saturday evening, yet every seat onthe upper level was already taken. So we settled in at a table downstairs to order dinner.

The wine list features one- and two-year-old vintages from Sonoma and the Rogue, Napa and Columbia valleys, along with a couple of sparkling wines and some champagnes.

There are wines available by the glass and by the half-bottle, or split — something I wish more restaurants would do.

Along with the usual Guinness and Murphy's stout ales on tap, there is Smithwick's Ale, Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, Strongbow Cider and Bodington Ale. There also is Stella Artois, a delicate Belgium beer, on tap.

I ordered a yummy glass of Martin Ray 2005 cabernet sauvignon ($6.50) before I even looked at the food menu.

For starters, there are "small bites" such as Scotch eggs, Dublin wings (served with whiskey glaze, barbecue sauce or hot sauce) and a "Pint of Fries."

We tried the Irish Fondue and Boxty ($9), a type of Irish pancake served with a melted blend of Rogue Creamery white cheddar, Willamette Valley garlic pepper havarti and pepper jack.

I have never tasted boxty before. It was good, it reminded me more of a fritter than a pancake. The fondue was delicious, but a bit on the thin side.

Boxty is one of the highlights of the 4 Daughters' menu. They can be stuffed with beef, chicken, corned beef or mushrooms.

Most of the entrees offered at the restaurant are simple, traditional Irish dishes served with a bit of a Northwest flair.

There is Guiness meatloaf, corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, Murphy's Irish beef stew, Sheppard's pie and chicken pot pie.

There's also salmon, a catch of the day, a shrimp and pasta dish, steaks and pork chops, along with a good selection of burgers.

My spousal equivalent — a die-hard bacon cheeseburger addict — selected a Blarney Burger ($11.50) served with rashers (Irish bacon), cheddar cheese (substituted for the blue cheese) and the garlic-parsley fries.

I chose the chicken pot pie and added a cup of the roasted garlic tomato soup made with blue cheese from the Rogue Creamery.

The burger was good, and the rashers turned out to be thick, meaty and lightly seasoned. The fries weremade from real potatoes and were to die for. The pie was filled with a creamy blend of tender chicken, potatoes, carrots and peas covered with light, flaky pastry. I enjoyed it and the hearty soup.

We topped off the meals with the bread pudding ($6).

Soups, salads and sandwiches also are available at 4 Daughters Irish Pub. One, called Jessie's Firecracker Shrimp Sandwich, is particularly enticing. The menu describes it as Cajun-style shrimp and sausage, rashers and tomato with garlic aioli on a hoagie roll.

I thought the restaurant did a great job on our meals considering it had been open for only a week and the rush of business that it has experienced.

With such a "hard" opening, the Sidons and their staff are probably still working out the finer details of the menu and the service.

I hope they are successful because I'm looking forward to sampling other items on the menu and enjoying a nice atmosphere that provides a venue for regional musicians.

My advice: Arrive early for a full dinner or late for appetizers, and stick around for some great live music.

— Laurie Heuston