Sunday, November 9, 2014
Epic Burgers and "Devilishly" Hot Chilli Dogs @ The Old Crown, Bloomsbury
I get a lot of questions on Twitter about the best pubs in London. As an American, it took me a few years to warm up to the pub culture here in the UK, but now I'm the first one to suggest popping down to our "local" for a glass of wine after dinner, or I'll look at John questioningly as we pass our favorite pub on the way home, asking, "Should we stop for one?" I'm not sure what changed, but I definitely appreciate having a quiet drink in a cozy pub on a Friday night now - even if it's just a soft drink.
The Old Crown, located halfway between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn tube stations, is one of my favorite central London pubs. I often describe it to people as a "central London pub, without that central London feel". By "central London feel", I mean pubs that are typically overrun with tourists and suits (not that I have anything against tourists or suits) and that are ever-so-slightly ... anonymous.
The Old Crown has character and is as far from "corporate" as you can get; a funny recording of two people speaking plays as you walk up the stairs to the top floor, making you wonder if your ears are playing tricks on you. There's a bar downstairs that's busy and lively, but room on the top floor too, which can be reserved for parties (we've had many-a-publishing parties upstairs). It's full of West End media types, and is a great place to relax after work.
The pub was kind enough to invite me to dinner on Thursday night, so I took Angela of The Awkward Blog along, and we chatted about all things blogging over a Coke and vodka (for her) and a Dark and Stormy (for me - I'm still on that ginger beer kick!).
I just so happened to be in the mood for a burger and, luckily enough, The Old Crown had several options, including a "specials" board comprised of burgers named after politicians: the George Osbourne (rare beef, caramelized onions, and goat's cheese), as well as a David Cameron and Ed Miliband. I'm not usually one for food puns, but the Codfather beer battered fish burger made me chuckle and, in the end, I opted for the Route 66, sticking true to my American roots: rare beef, American cheese, bacon, and onion rings topped with BBQ sauce.
My burger was delicious and hit the spot: a flavorful beef patty and a slightly sweet bun, coupled with the crunchy onion rings and crispy slice of bacon were matches made in burger heaven.
I somewhat bullied Angela into ordering The Hell Hound: "devilishly hot chilli con carne" on a hot dog, topped with grated cheese. They weren't kidding about the "devilishly hot" part - our mouths were on fire!
They also do terrific sides at The Old Crown - when heading there after work, we usually order a few sides of fries and a tower of onion rings to go with our drinks.
I'm spoiled for choice with the "foodie"-standard pubs near me in North London, but if I'm ever caught short for bar suggestions in Central London or need a pub with a convenient location, I'll head to The Old Crown.
And next time, I'll take a bite of the David Cameron.
I was generously hosted by The Old Crown Public House. Special thanks to Justin for looking after us. All opinions are my own.