Sunday, July 27, 2008
So.....back to our vacation
I've been side tracked with so many other things. I believe I finished off my vacation posts with leaving Williams CA and eating at the taqueria. After that we headed down I-5 and crossed over towards Highway one through Watsonville and finally ended up in Pacific Grove, just south of Monterey. Pacific Grove is a nice little town that started as a summer retreat for a Methodist church group. It was later the home of Ed Ricketts (Doc from Cannery Row) and to the man who wrote Cannery Row, John Steinbeck, among many other notable writers and artists. We stayed in a nice little place called Lighthouse Lodge, which, it turned out, was a block from the cemetery and chapel where Ed Ricketts' funeral was held in 1948. And just down the road were the very tidepools he collected specimens from. They had a complementary BBQ going at the hotel, which, if we were staying more than a couple of days, I would have just done that. After a long day of traveling it was nice to have that option available. But, we were only going to be there two nights, and I was insistent on eating out. So, after perusing the yellow pages and several restaurant guides that were available in our room we ended up driving north to Monterey and eating in an English Pub called Brittania Arms. It was Tuesday and we ended up walking through Monterey's farmer's market, which was very impressive. Not only was their plenty of fresh vegetables but plenty of ethnic food, from Greek to Indian, to Mediterranean to Arabic being served up. How I wish we could have such a thing in Humboldt County. And it was a dog friendly market. Most vendors had water bowls for your dog. (BTW there is a little Mexican restaurant on the same street that is dog friendly as well. Turtle Bay Taqueria. They will serve dog owners out on their front porch)
But our goal was dinner and we walked into a very noisy pub called Brittannia Arms. Definitely a sports bar, and definitely serving up good pints of beer and traditional British food. John ordered a Cornish Pasty, which he said was just as bland as what her remembers from boarding school in England, so obviously they were right on with their recipe. Our youngest daughter had chicken strips that were incredible. Moist on the inside and the breading on the outside was perfectly crisp. I ordered British style Indian food, Chicken Tandori, spicy, with Major Grey's Chutney. All served up with pompadoms (A crisp cracker type bread), which I never see in a real Indian restaurant, but have had served up by John's British dad. A true treat that I have been wanting since the last time John's dad made them for us. The best of the four meals was ordered by our oldest daughter. Bangers and Mash. The poor girl had all of us digging into her plate. The bangers were so good, and according to John, just like what you get in England, more bread then meat. The mash was creamy and smooth, not a lump in sight and served up with jarred gravy that you can only find in an import shop that sells English foods. A real guilty pleasure. Then, to top it off was Heinz baked beans, a British staple. I had never tasted Heinz baked beans and didn't realize they would be so different from Bush's or any other American baked bean. They are far less sweet and very subtle. I think I prefer our American sweeter version, but John was in heaven swiping them from his daughter's plate.
So, if you find yourself in Monterey hankering for a fisty pint, I highly recommend Britannia Arms. It's loud, so don't go their for a relaxing dinner. It's a fun pace, the waitresses are great, their service bubbly and prompt, the clientele is loud, raucous and fun and the food homey, traditionally British and good. Not in the least bit greasy. So if you like good beer and good beer food, you'll like this place. And if you go early enough, they are very kid friendly.