Aug. 27 2012 06:50 PM

Keep calm and carry on at San Marcos pub

The Parliament
Photo by Jenny Montgomery

My Anglophilia started long ago. I fell in love with the hushed sadness on the pages of Remains of the Day. I went through a phase where my morning began with a milky cup of English Breakfast tea instead of coffee. I'm pretty sure I'll name my next child Benedict Cumberbatch. And now that the Olympics are over, and Al Roker is no longer giving English lessons on The Today Show, I'm feeling a little blue. Fortunately, I can indulge my inner Duchess of Cambridge and get my Brit fix at Churchill's Pub & Grille.

Churchill's is a small, freestanding pub along the very bustling San Marcos Boulevard. I recently enjoyed lunch there and was surprised at how busy the place was in the middle of the week. I expected a lonely, quiet Tuesday atmosphere, just my squirmy baby and me (she wanted a pint of Boddingtons), but I saw other families with kids, businessmen in ties having meetings, retirees asking loud questions about unfamiliar beers and kindly bikers wearing out the bar stools. In short: a pub where everyone can feel welcomed and comfortable.

Come hungry and come thirsty; both of your needs will be met. There's plenty of English fare, from Scotch Egg to Tikka Masala, but Churchill's also makes a beautiful burger. I decided to go top of the line and ordered The Parliament. This two-hander features Kobe-style beef, salty pancetta, crunchy fried shallots and an oozing layer of truffle cheese. It's as decadent as it sounds. The brioche bun is glossy, soft and warm, and the meat is cooked to order. Be forewarned: The cheese is strong. The aroma of earthy truffles threatened to overpower the rest of the burger, so if stinky isn't your thing, try another option. (On my next visit, I'm going for the Sunrise, a burger topped with a poached egg and hollandaise.)

Churchill's claims that its Fish and Chips are "San Diego's Best." Good on them for swagger, but I'm not ready to give them the crown yet. Yes, it was a very tasty piece of fish—meaty Alaskan cod covered in a light beer batter—but I'm looking for a bit more crunch and color if it's going to come close to the oily goods of England.

I'm not sure why Cornish pasties (pronounced like "past" not "paste") are still somewhat exotic fare on this side of the Atlantic. They're humble, portable, and awesome. I prefer mine room-temp or cold, so I ordered some to go. If you're dining in, they're served hot with a delicious brown gravy, and, really, you can't miss no matter how they're served. The pastry was very flaky and the filling well-seasoned, if a bit sparse—I like my pasties fat with meat and veggies.

Churchill's has nailed the quintessential pub vibe. It's not a bar that serves food, nor a restaurant that serves drinks, but a gathering place that serves all. Cheers!

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