British Beverage Co. Isn't Bad, but It Isn't British

bbc drinks.jpg
Let's get a few things out the way up front. If you're looking for a nice bar in Uptown, British Beverage Co. is perfectly good. The beer selection is gargantuan; it's relatively well-priced, with Velvet Hammer for $5 or so; the bar is very attractively laid out and decorated; the menu has a nice selection (albeit a little pricey, even for Uptown). The staff was very friendly, the service great, and the food I sampled excellent. I enjoyed my visit a lot.

See also:
- A Sneak Peek Inside the New British Beverage Company

On one level, anyway. This was something of a schizophrenic experience for me; it's the way I imagine Americans feel in gaudy neon American-themed diners the world over, being served watered-down milkshakes, thin hamburgers and wondering where the pancakes are. British Beverage Co., how art thou not British? Let me count the ways.

bbc food.jpg
Upon first arrival, you notice a classic red British phone box. This one is clearly a built-to-order fake. If an antiques store in Addison can get a real one and put it out the front, how difficult is it for a moneyed Uptown bar to do so? Just bid for the one in Addison! In a way, the tone was set. The bar area is just another American bar -- show me a British bar where the liquor is prominently displayed in lit-up cages, or everything is so shiny and nice -- I know the bar is brand new, but at least have a couple of authentic pub brawls in it before it opens.

Next, the beer selection. For an establishment called the British Beverage Co., there are almost no British selections that aren't widely available anywhere else. They don't even seem sure of the normal British bar staples, as they made the cardinal sin of spelling Newcastle as two separate words. Then, my pet hate -- American cider selections. Is the only British cider any of you have ever seen Strongbow? That shit is disgusting. Back home it costs less than a dollar a can. Tramps drinks it, not because it tastes good, but because it's the cheapest way to get alcohol into their system. For everyone else, it is a running joke. Seriously. If you brought six Strongbows to the party, people would never talk to you again.

If we could just get the entire Henry Weston's range of ciders out here, or Bulmers Organic, or even just a Magners here and there, America would have no idea what had hit it. British cider is a very strong tradition, and I can't understand why anyone would take Strongbow as the flag bearer, let alone pay $6.50 a pint for it. American/Canadian cider as it is, is too sweet -- a kind of strange confusion that imagines cider should taste like actual sugary apple juice.

I'm so glad I've got that out of my system. I felt like I should settle on a British beer, so I went for one of my favourites, a Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Calmed from my cider rage, I looked over the menu at some pleasingly British fare: fish and chips (my thoughts on paying more than $5 for fish and chips are on record), bangers and mash, chicken tikka masala (!), ploughman's lunch, and my eventual choice, a chicken and mushroom pie, because goddammit I really miss savoury pies. No steak, kidney and gravy pie, but one step at a time everyone, one step at a time. It arrives, looking good, albeit with no sides, and I start to cut into it only to push away the entire top of the pie. What I actually have here is a bowl of thick chicken and mushroom soup with an unattached layer of puff pastry on top. ENCASE THE GODDAMN CONTENTS AMERICA. IT'S A SAVOURY PIE, NOT SOUP. I mean, the actual food is delicious. Really nicely done. But it's not British, and it's not a pie.

Dessert, crème brûlée. No problems here. I also really miss custard, and this is as close as I'm going to get. You can see the little vanilla specks in the custard, the topping is firm and cracks but isn't burned, raspberries to complement it, perfect.

So, to summarise, I ain't even mad. Dallas, you were never going to get this stuff right. I would imagine that the owner has seen a few high-end British gastropubs, and as a stab at them, it's really not a bad one at all (the chicken and mushroom soup pie would be well at home in such an establishment). I just felt like the high-end British gastropubs weren't particularly British anyway, and I think that's a personal thing. The battered English countryside village pubs were always, for me, where the definition of "British pub" lay, although there is a lot to be said for city alehouses too. All I'm saying is, that if what is important for you is the overall Britishness of the experience, go to the Addison Londoner on a Saturday morning during soccer season. If you just want a nice bar with a few little tips of the hat to Britain, then this is perfect. It's a really good bar, the BBC, it's just not any more authentic than your average faux-British bar, which, given that they have 'British' in the name, is a shame.



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
12 comments
jskipworth202
jskipworth202

I spent a week traveling through England, Wales, and Scotland. I gave up on English beer 2 days in. The sh*t is disgusting. Strong up front, then literally falls flat on the palate. Couldn't find a decent IPA anywhere. My Welsh buddy turned me on to cider instead. While Strongbow isn't the best cider in the UK, it is a lot more dry than Magners. It's pretty light too, which is great when pints are 2 for the price of 1 at a pub in Swansea, and you're doing multiple rounds! I agree that $6 a pint in the states is absolutely ridiculous though.

As for authenticity, at a half dozen bars in downtown Glasgow, everyone under 35 was drinking CORONA and listening to top 40 American pop, so it's all relevant.

And why can no one get a traditional breakfast right in this city?

atosbarn
atosbarn

Have you tried the Ten Bells Tavern in Bishop Arts?  Since I'm not British, I'm not sure exactly what an "authentic" British pub would be.  However, Ten Bells is definitely a "local" bar where neighobors gather. In terms of beer, they carried at least two brew from local (as in within Dallas) breweries.  The fish and chips were great, albeit a bit gussied up, and there is no television in the place. YMMV

mccraig
mccraig

Yeaaaa, I saw this one coming from a mile away. I don't necessarily think they HAVE to be an authentic British Pub or bar, but it's pretty cheesy to half-ass and put up a front in certain areas while still leaving others completely, unimaginatively ignored.

 

Given being in Uptown, it can go either way with the "this is ok, suitable for normal people" or conversely in the "this is for douche-bags". Looks like this one might fall in the latter.

EliotLandrum
EliotLandrum

Do they have carpet? That's the most important thing.

Starr
Starr

While it's still a bit difficult, you can find Magner's in Dallas. The Libertine and WBC The Bottle Shop come to mind immediately as answers to your cider desires.

mavssam
mavssam

If you're going to give us Americans a hard time about new castles, then crème brûlée (why only one accent mark?), complement

dallas_paul
dallas_paul

Not surprised. The only real British-style pub anywhere in the northern half of Texas (maybe the southern half, too) is the Bull & Bush in Fort Worth.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @atosbarn who wants to go to a bar with no TV pshhhhh.... That means youd actually have to conversate with your date or the people around you.  On 2nd thought, this is perfect, the dallas douche would never go to a bar w/o TV

GavinCleaver
GavinCleaver

 @mavssam You're lucky you got one accent, that was auto-corrected for me. I don't even know how to make Word do that. In future I will call it crem brewlay.

mavssam
mavssam

 @GavinCleaver Fair enough. On a side note, I think you've found yourself a nice little niche in the Dallas dining scene: authentic British/Texas BBQ fusion.  Fully enclosed brisket pie with real gravy sounds bombtits

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...