Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Three Cheers for the English Pub!

I’ve shared with you my wacky observations about both the Tube and Toilets.  I’ve been planning a post on some of my favorite British things.  But, I thought this one deserved its very own post.   


There just aren't many things that are more British than a pub.  

In Texas, we spent a lot of time with friends at The Lion & the Rose British Restaurant & Pub.  They claim to have captured the true British Pub experience.  They serve beer and have Pub Quiz Night each week. (Go, Diamond Dogs!!) But, that’s about where the similarities end. 

No wonder, TE was always a little sad the next day.  I just thought it was a mild hangover from the bitter grog he insisted on ordering.  But, he was really just pining for a proper English pub.  

They are definitely one of the best things about the UK.  This website refers to them as the “neighborhood’s living room.”  I love that and it’s so true.  Once you find the one…your “local,” you expect to hear the Cheers theme song when you walk through the door.  

There are chain pubs that have popped up in recent years like The Slug & the Lettuce or All Bar One.  We visit them often.  We know we’re going to experience decent food in a nice, clean setting.    They are the closest to a US restaurant/bar, like TGI Friday

There are also brewery-owned pubs.  A brewery might own dozens of pubs in a region all with similar furnishings and menus that serve that specific brand of brew.   They are kind of like a Chili's but without waitresses.  

But the best is the traditional old pub.  They each have their own character and a lot of it.   Some of them date back hundreds of years.  "See that wall?  Its' older than America."  (Yes, TE actually said that to me once.)

Be sure to read about the history whenever you visit a pub.  It’s usually on the menu or in a frame on the wall.  You may be drinking where Shakespeare, Charles Dickens or Jack the Ripper used to drink. 

Pubs are as common as churches around here.  No matter where you live, there will likely be a few within walking distance. 

When we were in Notting Hill, our go-to pub was the Prince Edward.  We would go several times a week to sit outside and read, watch a game or have dinner. 

We quickly became known as regulars and were always greeted warmly.   They have great food, by the way.

I just love the feel of a pub.  People are relaxed and friendly.  You will often find a dog sitting patiently under a bar stool.   You’ll hear a lot of good-natured teasing and laughing. 

Families are welcome and you’ll see strollers in the corner.   They are usually filled with fun and interesting chotchkies.  No smoking allowed, so please go outside to enjoy your hand rolled cigs or Cuban cigar.  

But, you won’t find waitresses in a pub.  No barely-legal-girls-in-skimpy-tops-and-short-kilts to flirt with.  Just belly up to the bar and pay cash for your drinks.  Some might take a credit card or let you start a tab, but don’t count on it.
Order a pint (or a half pint) of some great beer.  There are so many wonderful brews on tap at the local pub.  They are usually very specific about the glass that it will be served in.  If you order a Fosters, it will be served in a Fosters pint glass.  London Pride?  Here’s your beer in a very special London Pride glass.  No chilled glasses, btw.  And, no you can't take it home. 

And that whole thing about the beer being served warm…  not true. 

They will serve it at whatever temperature best suits the brew; room temperature, cold, ice cold or even super chilled. 

If you look in the little fridge behind the bar, you might even find a bottle of Budweiser or Corona.  But, you will be the only one in the pub drinking it.  So, go sit in the corner.  

Oh, and if you order a “Sex on the Beach” expect a blank stare.  You’ll be drinking beer, cider, wine or basic mixed drinks.  None of that frou-frou stuff.   If you want more than one ice cube in your drink, you should ask for extra.  And then you’ll get two. 

I’ve even seen a wine tap in a bar.  Pinot Grigio on tap?  Yes, please.   And I’m not even ashamed to admit it.  I might even sneak in an ice cube when no one is looking.  (I’ll be over here in the corner with my Budweiser drinking friend.) 

In the UK, weights and measures are highly regulated.  So don’t expect a heavy pour of rum in your diet coke just for batting your eyelashes or whatever else you got.  It’s illegal to serve anything less or more than the standard pour. 

Most of the liquor will be hanging upside down behind the bar with auto-measured pourers.  Or the bartender will be using a little, legal metal measuring cup. 

Wine, too.  That wine glass will have a little “fill to here” line.  But, feel free to order a double. 

And, don't tip your bartender.  I'm not completely sure, but it might even be rude.

Eating at pubs can be hit or miss.  You can easily get fish & chips, a meat pie or some starchy dish with a side of starch.  More in the mood for a salad or some vegetarian fare?  You are probably out of luck. 

Some pubs only serve munchies or only a limited menu during certain hours.  But, we have had some great pub meals.  We’ve been to several that specialized in Thai food.  Not sure of the correlation there, but it was good food.  

Again, you’ll order and pay at the bar.  Give them the number on your table if there is one.  If not, they’ll give you some numbered item to display at your table until the food is delivered. 

 Expect a bucket of condiments and silverware to arrive soon after your order. 

And don’t expect to be waited on hand and foot, foreigner.  Just eat your food and stop being so high-maintenance, will ya?   (And , yes, that is a chamber pot holding our ketchup.)

By law, most pubs close at 11pm.   They have started issuing licenses for some to stay open until midnight or 1am.  You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.  You’ll need to head over to the local nightclub for that “Sex on the Beach.”  Hear that bell?  It means last call.  Drink up, Pilgrim.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a fun game that TE taught me when we were exploring the English countryside last summer.  It was fun.  And, if I recall correctly, I kicked his butt.  It’s called Pub Cricket.  It’s kind of like the License Plate Alphabet game we used to play as kids on a US highway road trip. 

Rules for Pub Cricket

1.  Each player get 3 “wickets” per turn.

2.  The first player “bats” and for every pub
     you pass, that player gets “runs.”   
     And it’s all about the pub name.  As you pass
     each pub, you add up your runs. 

3.  The number of runs for each pub
     corresponds with the number of legs
     that are found in that pub name.   
    But, only up to a maximum of 6 runs per pub.

(So, for instance, the “Prince Edward” would be worth 2 runs, because a prince has 2 legs.  If you pass the “Dog & Duck” you would get 6 runs... 6 legs.  And for “The Fox & Hound” you would still only get 6 runs, not 8, since 6 is the maximum for each pub.)

4.  When you get a zero you lose 1 of your 3 wickets.   

(For instance, “The Cheshire Cheese” or  “The Barley Mow” would be worth zero, since they have no legs.  And, for “The King’s Head,” you also get zero because the head of a king has no legs.  Get it?)

5.  Once you lose all 3 of your wickets, record your total runs and it’s the next person’s turn.  
    If you’re really lucky, your turn could last for miles.   

6.  Whoever has the most runs at the end of your road trip is the winner!!!  The loser has to buy the next round. 

I hope you have fun playing PUB CRICKET!   

What's the name of your "local?"  What makes it special? 

See you down at the Pub!  Cheers!!



  1. I love the "pub cricket"! We'll have to play that on our next long drive! Fantastic!

  2. We went to Churchill Arms a few times since our hotel was nearby! In fact it was St. George's Day and they were completely decked out in Red and White balloons. We also had a lazy Sunday brunch at Prince Edward too! I absolutely love that whole area? The place we went to the most though was Mall Tavern which is super close to Churchill Arms. If you haven't been you should check it out. After our 2 weeks, we felt like locals!

  3. FUN!! Great blog, Sissy! Love you & Miss you! Ill be over to check out these pubs one of these days!! =), Lis

  4. Hi, I'm stumbled onto your blog and just wanted to say it's great. This entry about British Pubs has made me realise some of the good stuff that I, who have lived in the UK for all my life, take for granted! I hope you continue to enjoy living over here!

  5. Wow- you completely sold me on flying over there just to check out the pubs!! Thanks for that!

  6. Hey ! My kinda post lol I went to the pub twice this week here in London. The weather makes everyone want to run for the parks in their bathing costumes and lull away the evening with a good pint of beer in hand in a beautiful beer garden. My local is the Lord Stanley in Camden and although i like it ... there is nothing better than a pub garden in the country ! enjoy sweet fellow blogger. Hope you are delighted with the gorgeous weather here as much as I am right now ... DIY in put on hold I am going to sunbathe in front of Amy WInehouse's old house it's my local green funny enough ! xxx

  7. Wow, I've never played the game, but I LOVE IT! We'll be sure to play it next time we're on a road trip through the countryside. Love it - 'England's living room' or would they say 'lounge'?!

  8. Hi Selena What a ripper of a post! Thanks so much for linking it up to the POTMC. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt so much. But 'pub cricket' takes the cake for me as I'm a cricket tragic as we say over here in Australia! Just magic. J x

  9. Great post! Been reading through various Ex-Pat blogs and your situation is the reverse of mine. I'm an Englishman who's married a Texan but instead of her moving to Britain I've moved to Texas. Having a whale of a time so far and annoying people by speaking English! HA! Loved the post and the blog and yes I am sorely missing "England's Neighbourhood Living Room" Thanks!

  10. Having emigrated to Australia the local pub is probably one of the things we do miss!

  11. God I missBritish pubs. So very much. I loved this post!!! x


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