Our destination was chosen for happy hour and it’s British pub cuisine. Although, had I known that one of my guests would be travelling to England in the next few days, I wouldn’t have suggested this place. We both knew the meal he would have today would be nothing compare to the authenticity of his place of birth.
None the less here we were. Located within the marine building, it is hard to miss. The marine building its aptly name for its nautical themed design. An archway with a gilded mantle above stone and cement greeted you. It presented the scene of a multi sailed ship heading sailing towards you. It is flanked by rays of sun, and framed by a flock of seagulls flying in opposite directions. Similarly, the boarder of the doors were set in matted gold and etched with sea life. A seahorse, turtle, large shelled clam, a dolphin mid jump, manta ray, five pointed starfish, snail, and a lobster. It was one of those entrances that made you feel small, and had you work to get through. Single filed we took a whirl in the turn style doorway, pushing our way through.
On the other side, a great hall opened up before us. The first thing you see is the glass mosaic crowning the ceiling, a pointed rising sun emerging from jagged blue waves. Your eyes were lead to its direction by way of the textured ceiling, carved in detailed patterns. To your right and left were several stone archways set above the entrances to elevators, spaces for sitting, and several isle ways. In the centre of it all, the floor was patterned in mosaic title. A wheel representing the creatures of the twelve zodiac signs.
We instead took a sharp left, entering the pub through its back door. We could have easily taken the main entrance outside, with hostess to greet us; but the lure of the marine building’s entrance was just too elaborate to miss.
This is the newest reincarnation of the “Elephant & Castle” pub. It was telling with fresh coat of paint and perfectly waxed floors. Although the furniture gave back some of its historic, old timey feel. Studded chairs, beveled mirrors, tartan carpet over red brick titles, mesh lamps, and stain glass chandeliers.
The red and white bar with honey comb print was topped by a dark wood counter. The counter was cushioned by a foam and leather wrapped edging. This unique feature kept linger elbows comfortable, as heads tilted up to watch sporting matches on flat screens. The white elephants busts, that hung on the bar’s wall helped to connect the place to its name.
With two floors, larger tables, and a few nooks, this large space was perfect for the after work rush and the Friday night crowd. And now with happy hour in affect, the suits from the neighbouring office buildings came in waves.
We were 15 minutes early for happy hour at 3pm, and were unable to order any of the drinks specials. We pleaded with our sever insisting that we will be here within that 3-5pm time frame and that we would have more than one drink, so wanted to get a head start. However, she was firm, if we wanted $5 beers and wine we would have to wait. So instead of sipping water patiently we decided to leave. None of the staff asked us why, nor did any of them stop us, to try to reason with us. 15 minutes later we did come back, although that could have been a service of three entrees and drinks in multiples of threes, that the bar missed out on.
When we came back we were seated at the same table by the same window, that we were originally given. Our British guest was happy with the arrangement, he simply wanted any seat that allowed him to watch the football match (soccer).
He was most impressed by the breakfast menu that included the option of English muffins and traditional fresh toast, printed against a blue and red Union Jack. The back of the menu was pub classics like wings and nachos, fried finger foods, snacks with dips, several poutine options, and soups paired with salads. A few of the burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and causal favourite intrigued me with their unique twists on classic bar cuisine. An applewood smoked salmon club, a lamb burger with tzaziki and a balsamic arugula mix, Caribbean spiced chicken, blue cheese paired with bacon, and a butter chicken entree with naan. More inline with their British theme, they also had scratch made yorkies and shepard’s pie. If I didn’t come in wanting English cuisine, it would have been hard for me to choose from all the great entrees and sides.
I was under the impression that we were here for British fare, so was disappointed when one vegetarian of the group ordered the veggie burger. However, I was able to convince the other to get fish and chips instead.
“The veggie” was a house made vegetarian patty topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Seasoned in a Guinness BBQ sauce and finished with cheddar cheese. The patty was chewy, and not gritty or chunky like other vegetable based patties. It was light and flavourful enough when coated with the tangy and salty barbecue sauce. Although the side of crispy potato fries were better than the burger.
The “Fish and chips” were crispy haddock, lightly beer battered, and served with their signature tartar sauce. Given the price we expected a couple pieces of fish. Although the one we did get was done right. It was flaky and light, cooked well. Although it was bland without the tartar sauce that set it apart. This wasn’t your regular tangy mayonnaise based sauce, this one had something extra to it to give it an additional kick.
I went truly authentic with “Bangers and mash”. This was Guinness beer grilled bangers (sausages) with garlic mashed potatoes, and a rich beef gravy. This was one of the most comforting meals I have ever had. Something so simple with such a great presentation. I was impressed by the criss crossing links of meat and the sprig of Rosemary. Hearty and rich, there was nothing I didn’t like on the plate. The perfect ratio of potato to meat. The great smokey char that sealed in the juices of the sausage, paired well with the pool of buttery smooth gravy that it sat in. This was a very balanced dish. Mouthful after mouthful, this was a taste I did not grow tired of from first to last.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Not the first place I would go to for British fare, but it was a nice pub with a diverse menu to please all cravings and palettes. It was also relocated to a nice area, that gave us a great walk to and from it. Though, shame they didn’t have a patio to enjoy the view of the city and water from. Don’t deny your cravings.