If parched roasts and boiled tripe have made British food about as popular as Robbie Williams in this here United States, it’s time to reconsider our feelings. L.A. is not only chock-a-block with contemporary gastropubs inspired by London’s recent renaissance of solid drinking holes with progressive, superior food, but many are ditching the Yankee influences for more targeted takes on British recipes, and they’re bloody brilliant to boot. Soon, even Gordon Ramsay will get in on L.A.’s British invasion with his own Fat Cow gastropub coming to The Grove, adding to a scene rife with newcomers and classics alike. Here now, a look at ten places to get great British grub and grog in and around Los Angeles.
Ye Olde King’s Head Shoppe
116 Santa Monica Blvd. Santa Monica; 310-451-1402
If you’re in need of a new Marmite supplier, stepping into this Santa Monica corner store is a quick trip to a charming village shoppe with shelves stocked in all the classics: Heinz baked beans, Flake and Tiger bars, spotted dick in a can, Fisherman’s Friend, crisps from Walker, jams, and row upon row of teas. A fridge stocks savory meat pies to take-home, along with blood sausage, Lucozade, Ribena, British ales, and Fentiman’s botanical soda in flavors like burdock and dandelion, and Victorian rose lemonade.
Waterloo & City
12517 Washington Blvd. Culver City; 310-391-4222
A brawny British gastro-pub with a bold chef in Brendan Collins, who oversees a crew of cooks in bowler hats and has a passion for exotic charcuterie like smoked tongue, chilies, and carrots and the late-great foie gras and eel terrine. The specials board is one to adhere to for Collins’ carnivorous inspirations that come and go on his whims, while the giant pork shanks and delicate small plates of yellowtail crudo coming from his kitchen show a skill with both full flavors and expressive nuance.
7617 W Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood; 323-850-5400
A riotous pick-up scene rallies around a short selection of draft ales in a tailored room of wood frames, Maharajah paintings, and leather booths, while its slightly quieter arm offers an open kitchen for Spotted Pig veteran Ralph Johnson to prepare fresh, produce-focused takes on vinegar chicken, lamb shanks, fish and chips, and a nod to India or two. The locavore angle adds California clean and buoyancy to heavy English recipes, though its straightforward Welsh rarebit and potted chicken liver are perfect for reigniting Anglophile nostalgia.
840 S Spring St. Downtown; 213-225-2400
Casey Lane’s newly opened Downtown gastropub finds the Tasting Kitchen chef bringing his attention for detail and precision with product to an adventurous selection of British-inspired eats. Pot pies are made with pig head, olives arrive fried with channa, poutines come with pig’s feet or oysters, and fried frog legs somehow turn our attentions away from a tempting burger bearing Epoisses. The cocktails and beer selection leave little to be desired, and sticky toffee pudding kills over dessert.
The Village Idiot
7383 Melrose Ave. Hollywood; 323-655-3331
This wide-open space is heavy on charm, providing an ideal roost for kicking back with an Old Speckled Hen on tap and watching the Melrose foot-traffic sashay by. An expansive menu offers steak and potato pie and fish and chips in the day, and ale-steamed mussels, plus tiny tea sandwiches with pork jowl bacon, pork liver pate, and peach preserves at night.
Cat & The Fiddle
6530 W. Sunset Blvd. Hollywood; 323-468-3800
Inside is a wee authentic slice of British pub life, down to the darts and Strongbow cider on tap. Outside lays one of the best sunny day patios for pairing greenery and elbow rubbing with your Boddington’s and bangers and mash, sitting fountain-side with young Hollywood swingers. The restaurant just added a new brunch menu last week with English bacon in its eggs benedict and Nutella crepes as it celebrates 30 years on Sunset.
7862 East Pacific Coast Hwy. Newport Beach; 949-715-8338
It’s no secret that the Indian food in London outshines what you’ll find in most parts of the world, and even some parts of India. You won’t encounter a single battered cod or thrice-baked “chip” on the menu at this super-posh London transplant in O. C. But you will find ornate and progressive Indian cuisine at a price, including beef vindaloo made with ghost chili, a spicy, tropical Chettinad-style soft shell crab, tandoori halibut kebab and non-comparable naan, Kashmiri lamb shank, and coconut-laced green fish curry.
The Langham Huntington
1401 South Oak Knoll Ave. Pasadena; 626-568 3900
If you’re more Oxford than Lazy Ox, this is the place to stick that pinky out over the grand dame hotel’s daily afternoon tea service. $39 buys “traditional tea” with a selection of small plates including speck with herb burrata, smoked salmon profiterole, and Carribean sweet shrimp, along with a staggering selection of tarts, cookies, and scones. $59 buys “royal tea,” adding a Kir Royale and dessert of strawberries with Grand Marnier or Chambord to the same selection. See the full menu here.
Tam O’Shanter Inn
2980 Los Feliz Blvd. Atwater Village; 323-664-0228
Seeking a little cock o’ the north, are we? It’s right here in Atwater Village and it’s Jidori. Serving Scottish food in a traditional farmhouse atmosphere, this 90-year-old restaurant offers plenty of cuisine that crosses over from England, like fish and chips, toad in the hole, and corned beef served with soda bread. There’s even trifle for dessert.
17 South Raymond Ave. Pasadena. 626-795-0652
1770 East Colorado Blvd. Pasadena. 626-844-0447
A brick-lined traditional in the heart of Old Towne, Baldwins has fish and chips, cottage pie, and treacle, though the menu also has its share of typical frat-boy pub grub like chicken wings and mozzarella sticks, too. We come for the massive selection of draft beers, heavy on Belgians but hip to locals like Craftsman on a list that’s 63-drafts strong.