Would we go south of the border, or would we sail 'cross the pond?
You probably read the headline to this blog entry, so I won't pretend toward some surprise ending. The Man O' The Hour and I labored for several long minutes over the decision to go for charro beans or baked beans with brunch this weekend. The prospect of a Full English fry-up won out, and we headed for Dallas' best English-style pub, the Londoner in Uptown. Not the one in Addison Exclamation Point, where the extra punctuation is meant to symbolize the horrified and futile screams of those who have been cruelly whisker-washed into a casual dining-induced Stockholm Syndrome. Anyway, it was baller - -as in footballer.
Inside, the place was packed at 11:30 a.m. with Liverpool and Arsenal fans rooting their teams on. Do soccer fans root? I should know this. I lived in London for five months during college, and therefore am the world's foremost authority on things English. I drink PG Tips and found myself unable to sleep for weeks when it was unclear whether the fourth series, the last and most far-fetched, of Hotel Babylon would be released on Insta-Netflix. I siphon the fluoride out of my water. It's like that.
So imagine my panic when a flimsy paper menu was distributed to the table, sans-Full Monty, as the plate of beans, toast, mushrooms, 'maters, bangers and eggs is known in some parts. Though I resigned myself to getting a chips and curry instead, I still wanted answers about the whereabouts of the huge meal I'd hoped for. Our waitress indicated that despite menu and Internet claims to the contrary, full brunch wouldn't be served until noon, and we had to sit and wait politely for 20 or so minutes, waiting until literally 12 p.m. -- "the hour approaches!" our waitress said, finally bringing the big menus -- to put our order in. Perhaps the Londoner is trying to teach Americans some lesson about queuing and waiting like proper English folk.
I was on my second Bloody Mary, then, before the food arrived. Rimmed with cocktail salt and garnished with a lime, the drink was relatively bland, though thick with tomato. This wasn't a Zing Zang concoction. In fact, a guy in a Liverpool jersey who walked by our table asked whether the 'Marys were made with the Zang, and expressed relief when I said I didn't think so. It was the first time I'd met someone who didn't sing the mixer's praises. It was disorienting, as if I was suddenly driving on the passenger side of my car, on the opposite side of the road.
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Londoner Bloody Marys are made with Major Peters' mix and were better the second time around after someone had taken the time to add some extra Worcestershire and seasoned salt to the drinks. Major Peters has the advantage of allowing a little more room for customization, as Zing Zang really requires no extras for a tasty brunch beverage, but unless you're really going to go all-out with garnishes and home-grown spice, I recommend--if you care, Londoner--sticking with the Zang.
I have, however, no criticism for the Full Monty, which came with runny-yolked fried eggs, wheat toast and a bowl of baked beans, as promised. The bangers were firm-skinned but tender, and the bacon streaky as it should be. While I'd typically prefer a big chunk of roasted or fried half-tomato and large mushroom cap--what I ate while downing pints of Carling with my £3.99 pub breakfasts at Wetherspoon's, the English equivalent of, say, TGI Friday's because hey, it was cheap during an especially bad exchange rate--the saucy, squishy mushroom-and-tomato mix at the Londoner was plenty satisfying.
Man O' The Hour -- himself something of an Anglophile and former Irish study-abroad student, in his day -- also opted for the Full Monty, though the Londoner is a favorite for us and we often grab the fantastic chicken and chips, of which praises have recently been sung by the Observer's own Noah Bailey. They're available at brunch, as are breakfast tacos, omelets and biscuits and gravy. (Incidentally, I wondered to Man O' The Hour, what was a Full Irish Breakfast as opposed to the Full English? He wasn't sure. A trip to Wikipedia revealed the Irish tendency for black pudding at breakfast, and I continue to be relieved, then, that the Londoner is an English outfit, having never managed a taste for blood sausage.)
The patio, where we snacked, features misters and a wide-screen television if you'd rather watch your footie in the Texas heat as opposed to the dark, wood-paneled indoor bar. At $12.50 for the massive plate of Englishness and $6 a 'Mary, it's not altogether a cheap endeavor, but much more affordable than a trip on British Airways.