The Turf Irish Restaurant & Pub in downtown Phoenix is rebranding itself as food-focused Chambers on First. With the new name and restaurant-oriented direction comes a new menu, expanded patio, and refurbished interior.
Turf has been going through a mini-identity crisis lately — changing its name first to Downtown Phoenix Public House in early September before settling on Chambers two weeks ago. The bar underwent numerous renovations in the months leading up to the name changes but never closed its doors. Everything from reupholstered furniture and patio refurbishing to the demolition and addition of a new wall took place in the early hours before daily lunch service started.
The new American-style menu, with equal parts small plates and entrées, is an exercise in elevated bar food. Appetizers and sharable options include twists on pub staples like mozzarella sticks, barbecue pork and chicken sliders, and smoked chicken wings, but an effort seems to be made to focus on higher-quality entrées, including blackened salmon risotto ($15) and a 10-ounce flat iron steak ($16). An extensive list of burgers, sandwiches, and wraps ($10 to $13 each) — one of Turf's former staples — is also available. Options include classic Reubens, shrimp and cod po'boys, and bacon burgers. In addition to lunch and dinner, Chambers will serve weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., complete with a bottomless mimosas or Bloody Marys for $15.
The bar includes a handful of local offerings on the craft beer front, with appearances from Uncle Bears Brewery, San Tan Brewery, Four Peaks, and Pine's That Brewery and Pub on draft. Brews from Flagstaff's Lumberyard Brewing Company and others from Four Peaks are available in cans.
The restaurant still retains its Irish roots. Celtic crosses dot the liquor-lined bar shelves. Jameson and Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey barrel covers hang on the walls next to lit up signs for Guinness — which remains on tap. Standards like fish and chips ($13) and sirloin and vegetable cottage pie ($12) also kept their places on the menu.
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Though more food friendly, the restaurant does feel like a traditional bar, thanks to dark wood accents and coloring coupled with a high-top heavy presence and dominating bar. Big-screen televisions are found on almost every wall — sometimes three at a time — with promises of showing Monday Night Football and UFC fights. The once-weekly Monday night comedy shows and other live entertainment, however, are no more.
The original Turf opened just in time for St. Patrick's Day in 2009, back when Sens and PastaBar were part of the three-restaurant collection on First Avenue between McKinley and Pierce streets. The bar was a collaboration between Frank Murray and Andrew Mirtich, the duo behind another popular downtown Irish pub, Seamus McCaffrey's. Though the bartenders and waitstaff at Chambers will be relatively fresh faces to regulars (only two staff members are returning from Turf, according to one bartender), Murray and Mirtich are still the establishment's driving forces.
The Chambers reopening, rebranding celebration starts at 6 p.m. on First Friday, October 2, at 705 North First Street. Admission is free. Live music from Lucky Mike & The Strikes and The Recalls will be performed from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday. Kitchen hours may vary. Call 602-296-5043 or visit www.chambersphx.com for full menu and more information.