Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lansdowne Pub: Magically delicious chips!

Remember how disappointed I was with the uneven, dry chips at the Battery?

It doesn't really matter any more. Because I found a place that does the closest thing to real, proper chips.

Last week, the Lansdowne Pub opened, so I went with lovely co-worker Sarah and new co-worker Eric to check it out.

In its corporate attempt to create the atmosphere of ye olde taverne from scratch, it's everything I dislike: 4,000 cozy square feet of faux-traditional, newly distressed, dark-wood bar room. A Pogues/Van Morrison/Cranberries soundtrack. Walls decorated with carefully distressed tchotchkes and cloth-bound books, Guinness posters and HDTVs showing sports.

I was all ready for a menu of authentic Irish dishes such as
nachos and quesdillas and buffalo wings and chili.

But the Lansdowne's options were actually interesting. Yes, there were the usual bangers & mash and shepherd's pie and beef stew, but there were also pork chops, oysters, mussels, salmon—items that could easily appear on a trad/modern Irish menu but, at least in Boston, rarely do.

The Lansdowne also does the ubiquitious full-on fry-up breakfast on weekends, and what may be a proper Sunday roast. I shall investigate further.

But what gave me most hope was that they had chips with a variety of toppings: gravy, curry sauce, mushy peas, baked beans.

So Sarah ordered the grilled cheese sandwich, and was going to order a side of chips until the waitress explained they came with her dish anyway. And then this arrived:

"I thought you said it came with chips," Sarah said to our waitress, who rolled her eyes.

"You know, I keep telling them they should change the wording on the menu," she said. "People are always getting this confused."

Okay, so why didn't you clarify this before we ordered??

Eric went for the fish sandwich, which did really come with chips:

The fish itself was lovely:

And I ordered the
ploughman's lunch. This was something of a test: in England, you can tell a lot about a pub from its ploughman's, which is, at its core, bread and a wedge of cheese, but can range from those ingredients alone to a feast of cured meats, pork pie, boiled eggs, salad and fruit.

And it turned out to be better than expected:

The bread was fabulous, light and nutty; the cheddar could have been stronger; the salad was okay (no one expects tomatoes to taste of anything in April anyway); and it came with an interesting tomato chutney, as well as Branston pickle, to which I am addicted.

And then there was the meat:

The camera doesn't lie: that's about how appetizing it was. Basically thin-sliced deli turkey and beef, it was cold, clammy, and completely without flavor. I'd seriously suggest that the Lansdowne ditch it and serve a couple of cold sausages instead.

Oh, and the chips?

As good as it gets without going to a proper chippy. Soft and pliant, not too dry or too greasy, held salt and vinegar well. Better than most late-night post-club takeaways back home, at least. I'm usually able to restrain myself from eating a whole plate of chips, but it took willpower not to finish the lot.

The Lansdowne Pub isn't the cheapest lunch option—my bread and cheese set me back $13—but I'm glad it's there for when I get the insatiable urge for real proper chips.

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