Cold, damp weather always makes me want to eat hearty British food. This thought propelled me, my husband Laurent and our daughter Florence, to the doors of the Sherlock Holmes Pub in the Barnyard during a recent spate of winter storms.
Co-owner Charlene Macugay greeted us as we walked into the snug pub, which had a fire going in a corner fireplace. Macugay opened Sherlock Holmes with her cousin Benita Updike nineteen years ago after several trips to England.
The menu features British and American favorites. We started our meal by sharing an order of mozzarella bread ($5.95). Our five slices of French toast topped off with oozing mozzarella took the chill off our bones and whetted our appetites.
For our main dishes, Laurent chose the Deer Stalker Fish and Chips ($11.95) and I ordered Bangers and Mash ($10.95). Florence went with a Dominion Burger ($8.95) to try out the American offerings.
The fish and chips had a very crunchy crust which Laurent did not like. I tried the fish and thought it was fine—the crust did not dry out the cod on the inside. The fish tasted great with lemon juice on it, although malt vinegar is the usual condiment. Fish and chips vies with roast beef as the national dish of England.
Ale certainly ranks as the national drink of England, which encouraged Laurent to sample a Bass Ale ($4.50/pint) on tap. Bass hails from Burton-upon-Trent in the Midlands of England, and is Britain’s biggest beer maker. Bass has a slight citrus flavor, although no fruits are added to it. The tart flavor of the beer cut the richness of the crunchy coating of Laurent’s fish and would go well with the beef and lamb dishes that figure on the menu as well.
My equally hearty dish of bangers and mash warmed me up after the rain. “Bangers” referred to the two plump and juicy sausages I had with my meal and “Mash” referred to the hand-mashed potatoes and gravy. Beans baked with brown sugar rounded out my “best of the breakfast and dinner worlds platter.”
I ordered an equally stout beverage to go with my dish—an Irish Guinness ($4.50/ pint) on tap. Plenty of hops used in its making give Guinness a bitter taste. You either love Guinness of you hate it. In England, Guinness gets served at room temperature, so if you want a truly authentic taste you should let it warm up some. The Guinness made my sausages seem much richer—what I was looking for when I ordered the beer.
Two other English specialties that diners might want to try are Prince of the Pub Shepherd’s Pie ($10.95) and the Soho Spectacular Steak and Kidney Pie ($10.95). Minced meat such as lamb or mutton covered with onions, topped with mashed potatoes, and cooked in the oven until it is brown on the top constitutes a shepherd’s pie in England. Sherlock Holmes improves upon the traditional recipe, which was often a way of using leftovers, by putting ground top sirloin in their version of the dish. Diners might be surprised to see how tasty the meat kidneys are in the steak and kidney pie.
Florence’s Dominion Burger came with Canadian bacon, Monterey Jack cheese, and guacamole. She said the meat was juicy and flavorful. Sherlock Holmes makes sensational fries. They have a light crunch and a beautiful ochre color. Potatoes did not become popular in England until the later part of the 18th century, although other parts of Europe knew this New World food product before then, according to Adrian Bailey in The Cooking of the British Isles. Once the English discovered that you could fry potatoes and use it as a “filler” for meals, it almost replaced bread in some parts of the country. The English even have chip sandwiches.
For dessert, Florence had a generous helping of creamy vanilla ice cream ($3.50). Laurent had a slice of Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake ($5). British cakes are renowned for being moist and delectable. Laurent’s cake lived up to the reputation. The chocolate taste was subtle. The creamy frosting melted in the mouth. I sipped an Earl Gray tea flavored with Bergamot oil while they finished their desserts.
Sherlock Holmes offers fair-weather items as well—like seven kinds of salad, soup, eight specialty burgers with names like Mysterious Madam Carlotta (featuring Monterey Jack cheese, chilies, salsa, and guacamole), sixteen different sandwiches, pasta, and a “Little Detectives” menu for children. A full-range of steaks and lamb ranging in price from $13.95 to $25.95 completes the menu. With variety like this, it is no wonder why a diner would choose to make Sherlock Holmes Pub “my local,” as the British say when describing their hangout.
SHERLOCK HOLMS PUB
3772 The Barnyard, Carmel | 625-0340