October has been a crazy month at the Holman household and spare time has been in short supply. I can feel the holidays approaching and have already been putting together Christmas playlists for any party I might be inclined (asked) to DJ. The weather is turning cooler and it's time to star using the oven again, which means great savory aromas filling the house on grey, rainy days and the smell of cinamon wafting through the house as cookies and pies are baked.
I always look forward to this time of year and pull out all of my old Christmas DVD's. I'm a bit of an anglophile at Christmas-time and a fanatic when it comes to "A Christmas Carol". I watch as many versions as my wife can stand, during the holidays. The old Victorian Christmas hits a sweet spot with me and makes me long to head to the pub for some glog, mulled cider, or perhaps a hot buttered rum.
Unfortunately, there aren't actually many places in Dallas that you can actually find those old-world holiday beverages (other than making them yourself at home), but there are certainly a few good pubs in Dallas. My personal Christmas-time favorite is the Old Monk. When they put up their lights and garland, it make the place even cozier than it normally is, and it's comforting to me to sit at the bar, read a paper, nibble on a cheese plate, and just hang for a bit. So, for this month's article in Lit, I thought that pubs would be a good segue into the Fall season. So, here are my thoughts on the "Pub"ject (sorry!).
Stop by the Pub for Some Grub and Suds, Bub!
Ever been on a pub crawl, or perhaps you’ve just crawled into a pub before? A Public House or “Pub” is “an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold and consumed” says Merriam-Webster. They originated in the U.K. and have their beginnings in Roman Britain, which dated from AD 43 to about 410. Once the Romans established an infrastructure of roads in the U.K., the need for places to unwind, get something to eat and drink, and bed down for the night, greatly increased. Roman taverns and inns rapidly sprung up on major trade routes.
The origin of the pub, as we know it, began with the abbey breweries and monasteries of Britain, which emerged shortly after the Norman Conquest, in the mid-eleventh century. They were bustling hubs of socializing, business, and politics, as well as a place to let your hair down and get hammered.
Many influential people have had their intellects fueled by hanging out at the local pub including Charles Dickens, Dylan Thomas, and George Orwell. The “Ye Olde Fighting Cocks” pub in St Albans, Hertfordshire, an 11th century building on an 8th century site, currently holds the Guinness World Record for the oldest pub in England. Today there are over 53,000 pubs in the U.K.
Traditionally English pubs were solely for the purpose of drinking, and perhaps playing a couple of games of darts or cards. Little if any food was served, other than snack items like pickled eggs, chips, and peanuts, whose saltiness increased beer sales. If meals were available, they were typically akin to a ploughman's lunch (cheese, pickles, and bread and butter). In the 1950s some pubs began offering "a pie and a pint", serving hot steak and ale pies, made on the premises.
"Pub grub" quickly expanded to include other British food items such as fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, and pasties (a pastry typically filled with beef potatoes and onion). Burgers and pasta dishes soon followed.
Since the 1990s food has become a much more important part of pub sales, and today most serve lunch and dinner, as well as a broad selection of Scotches, beers, and ales to choose from. Most in the DFW area also have full bars. Some pubs serve meals made to a higher standard and are called gastropubs, a phrase coined in England in 1991. Here the establishment’s major focus is on the quality of their food.
While many bars in the DFW area call themselves “pubs” or “taverns” I’m going to keep the scope of this article on the ones that I feel adhere to the pub genre most closely.
The Feargal McKinney and company pubs – These guys really have it down and have opened up some of the best, most authentic pubs in the area including:
The Black Friar - 2621 McKinney Ave. Dallas, Texas 75204 (214) 953-0599
Nice big patio. Directly across the street from the Idle Rich!
The Idle Rich - 2614 McKinney Ave. Dallas, Texas 75204 (214) 965-9926
Love the bar and the deck on McKinney. Great for people watching. Try the Silver Dollar Burgers and Cheese Boards.
The Old Monk - 2847 N Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 821-1880
You can’t beat this place on a rainy day… It feels like you’re really in the British Isles. Both the staff and the Fish and Chips rock!
Dallas also hosts several gastropubs, of which my favorites are:
The Meddlesome Moth - 1621 Oak Lawn Ave. Dallas, TX 75207 (214) 628-7900
A menu with interesting ingredients for the Dallas Palate (animal parts that we don’t usually see in these parts). Great patio!
Cock and Bull - 6330 Gaston Ave. Dallas, TX 75214 (214) 841-9111
A small, intimate place in Lakewood with a very ambitious menu that they adeptly pull off!
Some of my other top “Pub”-lick intoxication locations are:
Ginger Man - 2718 Boll St, Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 754-8771
One of my favorites! Built in an old two-story house, you can lounge in the lounge upstairs, or sit on one of the two patios. Live music on Saturdays.
Capitol Pub - 2401 N. Henderson Ave. Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 887-9330
Situated nicely on Henderson. Good food and a wraparound deck outside. Check for kitchen hours - between lunch and dinner you can only get pizzas.
Trinity Hall - 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln. # 250 Dallas, TX 75206 (214) 887-3600
Very authentic feeling Irish-style pub, right next to the Angelica Movie Theatre. Impressive menu and they often have live music on the weekends.
The Dubliner - 2818 Greenville Ave. Dallas, Texas 75206 (214) 818-0911
Popular with bikers and the SMU crowd (location, location, location). Great selection of Single Malt Scotches and beer. Widely considered one of the best Irish pubs in Dallas.
So drop by your local public house for some bubble and squeak (potatoes, cabbage, and roast beef) or some bangers and mash (sausages with mashed potatoes), sip on a jar (pint of beer) of black and tan (Half a pint of Guinness Stout layered over a half a pint of Bass Ale) or a priest’s collar (a pint of Guinness Stout topped with an inch of hard cider), throw a bloody rousing game of arrows (darts). You’ll have a brilliant time and be glad you did! Cheerio.