For an entrée, Sherlock ought to have the Fish & Chips ($11.95), which are very likely the best in town--a firm halibut fillet in a light, sweet batter, served with a generous pile of fries. The Royal Pheasant Pie ($12.95) is a delicious pot pie with a light pastry crust sheltering shreds of meat in a cream sauce. (There is also a light menu of salads, like the Romaine with Smoked Turkey ($9.75) that went untasted.)

Beef-wise their burger ($8.95) is well worth reckoning with, plump, tender, and topped with Cheshire cheese and bacon. I liked the Olde English Beefsteak ($14.50)--sirloin slices on toast points--far better than the Supreme Porterhouse ($24.95), a big steak the kitchen seems frightened of: The marinade was slight and the mushrooms served on top were practically raw. The desserts were also worth missing--I had the trifle on two separate occasions, and both times it tasted like it had been sitting in the cooler since some time during the Major era.

I wonder if anyone but me has ever had room for dessert. The temptation to fill up as you work your way through the beer menu is strong. In addition to the Bitter and the Piper's Pride there's the Gold Crown Lager, Stag's Head Stout, Palace Porter, an India Pale Ale, and their Queen Anne Light. That "Light" is another little brainy fillip of Bill's--turns out Queen Anne was pregnant 17 times, and by the end of it all she weighed about 275 pounds, and she wasn't tall. There's a woodcut portrait of her above the bar, which Bill will point out to you if you ask him. "That's my little idea of a joke," he says. "Sometimes you do all of these things and you wonder does anybody even give a damn?" Thankfully, this question doesn't deter him from making or enjoying his beer for very long. He lifts a glass in toast to good Queen Anne and answers himself: "Ah well, it's all good fun anyway isn't it. It's good fun."

TABLEHOPPING

DIP THIS: Was wandering around the Internet--not surfing, never surfing, I hate that damn word--when I blundered upon Snax.com, a site of dip and dip-like objects. I particularly like their no-nonsense chocolate enrobing recipe:

Chocolate Dip

* 1 cup chocolate chips

* 1 tbsp. butter cut into chunks

* Potato chips and pretzels

Melt chocolate chips and butter slowly over low heat in a completely dry double boiler or heavy saucepan. Add more butter for a thinner sauce. Dip potato chips and pretzels in chocolate sauce, place on waxed paper, and refrigerate until the chocolate hardens.

But you don't have to stop with potato chips and pretzels--be creative. Banana chips, fresh berries, luncheon meats, insects, prophylactics--your only limitation is your imagination.

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