I admit, I’m kind of “over” the ubiquitous English/Irish pubs that popped up everywhere in the late ’90s. The menus were all the same: some very American-sounding sandwiches, such as a bacon cheeseburger, a few soups and salads, and sprinkling of ‘authentic’ dishes such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips (usually frozen) to provide a UK feel to the establishment. Most of these pubs host a modest selection of British Isles beers to keep customers coming back, such as Guinness and Bass (but can’t you get those everywhere these days?), and were essentially, the same restaurant claiming to be ‘a taste of England/Ireland/Scotland/West Virginia.’
Shakespeare, however, is an authentic English pub, serving only British specialties, homemade with traditional English recipes. We went on a Thursday night, and decided to try my favorite: fish and chips along with a bowl of broccoli and cheese soup. We also ordered Boddington’s Ale. We were, after all, in a pub.
Our meal arrived quite quickly, as did our drinks. Now, I’ve been to London, and a couple of other towns in England, and I’ve had fish and chips in all of them, and I must say, these were as close to the real thing that I’ve ever eaten in the States. The only missing ingredient? The bones that feature somewhat precariously in the English counterpart. The chips were homemade, and the peas were fresh, and much tastier than their London relatives.
The soup, on the other hand, was not good. Made in the English fashion of pureed vegetables in soup, the broccoli was more a part of a broth than a star, with a tasteless cheese and chicken stock base.
Despite the disappointing soup, the atmosphere, great service, and excellent fish and chips certainly merit a second visit. And maybe a third.