Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, USA

Well, hello there. Welcome to the first (and possibly last) episode of Roast Dinners Around The World. Starting with Shakespeare Pub in San Diego. US of HEY.

Who the hell am I? I’m Lord Gravy, aha…Lord, from London in the UK. You know, the country that gave birth to the USA and happily let you run it once Leonardo Di Caprio started getting a bit uppity.

And you did alright at running your country…for a while. Then you elected Trump, you fools and…oh wait…his mother is from Scotland? So we are partly to blame? Us British are partly responsible for Trump? Roll on Scottish Independence.

Anyway, I’m Lord Gravy. I run Roast Dinners In London. Most of you reading will probably be British, I guess, because most will probably have followed from Roast Dinners In London. I doubt I’ll have many American readers but I’m going to pretend that you are American and slag off your president. And ex-president. And next president. In return I’ll grant you permission to slag off our Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. No, it’s fine. Honestly, I’m happy for you to do so. It’s only fair.

My whole life ethos is my community service to those in, or visiting London, looking for a roast dinner. It’s the meal we have every Sunday which is basically meat, roast potatoes, vegetables and some cheap-ass batter thing called a Yorkshire pudding – with gravy. I’m actually from Yorkshire. Some people might also call me a pudding. Or a nobhead. I mean, what kind of person spends around £2,000 a year on writing a blog that they get nothing for and refuse freebies for. Though if you are willing to throw in flights and accommodation, I might accept your offer of a free meal for Roast Dinners Around The World.

Anyway. I do this a lot, lose track of I was going to say, and then have to start paragraphs with “anyway” or “so…”. I’d like to think it is part of the charm.

Anyway, so every Sunday I go somewhere in London, often completely on the other side of London which makes it almost as difficult to get to as Canada, to review a roast dinner. Sometimes they are bad. Sometimes they are awful. Occasionally they are good. And then I write a load of nonsense. The whole point being that other people in London then know where to find the best roast dinners. And where to avoid.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.

So why have I started Roast Dinners Around The World, I hear you ask? Well, partly I am looking to save Netflix, as when they finally discover my talents, they will be desperate to do a travel series with me trying to find the best roast dinners in the world. Though I have British teeth thanks to all the crystal meth we were fed at school once Maggie stole our milk, so I might need to spend some money fixing them first.

But also. Some Sundays I am not in London. Some Sundays I am even in another country. Well, I was until China Virus. God, I’m never going to get your fuckwit ex and next president out of my head, am I?

Hence, I’m like, if I’ve spent £2,500 on a holiday (around $3,000 now but probably around $300 in a few years), what I really want to do is find some BRITISH CULTURE INNIT.

England fan with flare in backside

ENG-GER-LUND ENG-GER-LUND ENG-GER-LUND. And you thought you had some thick fucks in USA.

However, there is going to be a problem or two with this blog. Unlike Roast Dinners In London, I won’t be available every Sunday to eat a roast dinner somewhere else in the world. As I will be in London most Sundays, at least until Netflix discover me. And when I am in another country on holiday, I won’t always be able to find a British Sunday roast.

Somehow, British food culture doesn’t seem to have spread around the world that well. Except in cheap-ass Spanish resorts which we have conquered. Or had conquered until the Spanish kicked out loads of people after we voted to have our freedom of movement in the EU curtailed, and were then like, “but what about our freedom of movement?”. You try finding a Sunday roast in Paris…oh that didn’t take too long. Ok, how about in Madrid? OK, that took even less time to find. OMG I could have a roast dinner there on Saturday, then be back in London on the Sunday? Life changing.

But yeah, don’t expect reviews more than a couple of times a year at the very most, unless I get sponsorship. And I write far too much crap to get sponsorship.

Love is merely a madness, except of roast dinners.

I didn’t do much research before going to San Diego, or even before booking it. It was when covid tests were required to go to USA, so given the amount of covid flying around, I thought the chances of going were around 50/50.

But one thing I had noted was that San Diego had an amazing beer scene, oh and more importantly, a venue called Shakespeare Pub which was apparently San Diego’s original British Pub. Oh and most importantly – sold Sunday roasts. My first ever Sunday roast on a different continent. I’ve probably had some in crappy Spanish resorts when I was young and dumb. I’m not young any more.

Let’s talk about San Diego for a bit anyway. It is my new favourite city in the world. Yeah, I know, I live in London – supposedly the world’s best city, but San Diego was sunny. Not only was the weather delightful in March, but everywhere I went I could find really nice, interesting IPAs to drink. Even in San Diego Zoo there was a good range of craft beer. Try going to London Zoo – you’ll be lucky to get Amstel. You cannot just go into a random pub in London and expect great beer. You have to research. In San Diego, it felt like we could go anywhere and get a great beer.

I simply loved the vibe. Sure the sunshine felt good – and those rare sunny weeks in London, it feels great here too. I thought Bilbao Park was gorgeous, Little Italy had a really cool vibe to it. Gaslamp District did feel a bit like any old high street but venture away from the main strip and there were some great brewery bars…and some nice rooftop bars which sold great craft beer again. A rooftop bar in London – and you’ll be getting premium branded lager. And paying lots of money also.

And I had some really nice food. Ironside in particular offered the most stunning of experiences – we were looked after really well, the halibut we had was amazing – just so tender and cooked perfectly, along with some spinach, chorizo and potato halves.

Halibut from Ironside, San Diego

Also this wonderful short rib eggs benedict from the scarily-named Breakfast & Bubbles – the gravy that came with the short rib was some of the best gravy I’d had in ages. And I know my gravy. Aha. Though for some reason in London, half the chefs seem to think that some poncey French crap called jus needs to go on a roast dinner instead.

Then again, you Yankies hardly know any better. According to the definition, eggs benedict is “a dish consisting of poached eggs and sliced ham on toasted muffins, covered with hollandaise sauce”. An eggs benedict is NOT anything you want, like short rib and gravy, with poached eggs. And don’t even get me started on your spelling. Well, I probably will at some point before this ends.

Short Rib Benedict from Breakfast & Bubbles, San Diego.

And finally in a when the fuck is he going to talk about the roast dinner at Shakespeare Pub kind of way, I also had an amazing burrito at The Taco Stand. I barely remember it and certainly couldn’t photograph it, but I do remember it tasting soooooo good. Those beers…oops.

To roast, or not to roast: that is the question.

We’re here – finally – it’s the bit where I talk about the Shakespeare Pub. Though I woke up in the morning and wondered – should I really be going for a British Sunday roast in San Diego? Shouldn’t I be trying more of the wonderful Mexican food? Maybe a Mexican breakfast burrito?

That said, it was raining. Yes, raining in California. I WANT MY MONEY BACK. But rain equals London and London equals Sunday roast. It doesn’t actually rain that much in London, but it is cloudy at least half of the time.

Rain in California

Granted, it didn’t rain for very long and we managed a leisurely stroll, past America’s next president and into the arms of the Union Jack. GOD SAVE THE QUEENS.

Stepping out of the bright sunshine into the dark of the Shakespeare Pub was quite a contrast, add to that we were straight into a mass of people intently watching Liverpool vs Nottingham Forest. That’s football, by the way. FOOTBALL. NOT SOCCER. I probably shouldn’t tempt fate by slagging off the USA football team given that we are drawn together in the World Cup.

Anyway, it was quite a culture shock being out of the sunshine vibes of San Diego and into the football vibes of Shakespeare Pub – and there were definitely British people there. Also a handful of Spanish football fans, watching Barcelona vs Real Madrid.

In terms of feel, Shakespeare Pub was reasonably close to a British pub, though obviously faking it – if that makes sense. Dark inside, with a wood-panelled bar, nowhere near enough toilets (which smelled of Parma Violets) and finally…finally somewhere in San Diego selling shitty European lager. Maybe it was Carlsberg, maybe it was Stella Artois – they are all the same to me. I was just amused to see crap lager for sale.

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, inside - photo stolen from TripAdvisor

Photo stolen from TripAdvisor – there were no empty seats when we arrived, not inside anyway, but we found a couple of stools outside from where we could watch a local car park. Or Real Madrid vs Barcelona if we turned around.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

It wasn’t immediately obvious that it was table service, as I didn’t see anyone walking the tables for a good 20 minutes, so I went and ordered some drinks at the bar. And don’t worry, they still had some gorgeous hazy IPA.

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, Roast Dinner Menu

I didn’t have the world’s greatest hopes for a Sunday roast in USA and the venue wasn’t giving me “great food” vibes either. If my accomplice had said, “let’s finish our drinks and go”, I would have done. But we persisted.

On the menu was beef and chef’s “roast of the day” – which happened to be chicken. Both priced at $19.95. My accomplice went for the beef, and I went for the chicken.

Trump riding Putin's unicorn.

I would normally advise how long our dinners took to arrive, but it was like nearly two months ago so I cannot remember, so just enjoy the homoerotic meme of Trump riding Putin’s unicorn. Good job I took notes about the rest of the roast dinner.

And here it was:

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, Roast Dinner

My first British Sunday roast in the USA! How exciting!

So there was a veritable truckload of carrots – far too many in fact. Steamed, no seasoning or anything so just fairly ordinary carroty carrots – but they had a funky shape to them.

The broccoli was a little on the al dente side, but absolutely fine. I’m a fan of broccoli so always happy to see it.

Et tu, Brute?

Almost every week in London, I complain about roast potatoes. You’ll be heartened to know, that in San Diego, roast potatoes are also crap. My notes say “crap undercooked” and they just blended in with all the other crap roast potatoes that I’ve had before my holiday and since, so I have nothing else to add.

However, unlike almost everywhere in London, we had mashed potato. Or mash potato. You probably have a different name for it over there. Like, why do you call courgettes, zucchini? What the hell is a skillet? WE CREATED YOU! I actually just reviewed The Mayflower Pub, which is where your ascendants came from, apparently. I wouldn’t know as they only taught us how wonderful the British Empire was at school.

Anyway, the mashed potato was really good – and super creamy.

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, Sunday Roast

The Yorkshire pudding was…hang on…I didn’t take any notes for it. You don’t even know what one is do you? In London, we make them so large that you waste most of it, and make them the day before so that you waste all of it. I honestly don’t remember whether this one was any good or not. SOZ.

I do remember the chicken, however. It was like super plump – so plump and juicy that it really should be illegal. Oh hang on, it probably is in the UK. But I liked it, a lot. Maybe all chicken should be like this. Maybe…maybe I’ve finally found a Brexit benefit. By the way, where’s the MASSIVE trade deal you promised us?

Johnson and Trump laughing at us

Hurry up and sort it out, we are big important country. Nearly as big as the chicken. Which, by the way, had a kind of rotisserie or maybe BBQ influence on the flavour. My accomplice had the beef, and described it as “well cooked, not fatty or chewy, and substantial in amount”. I think it met her approval.

Finally, the gravy. It was thick and meaty. Though quite possibly had at least some influence from granules of some description. We found some granules in their British shop next door.

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, Bisto!

Lord Gravy, what fools these mortals be, at The Shakespeare Pub.

All in all, it was actually a pretty respectable Sanday roast…Sanday…San Diego…Sunday…get it? Well I thought it was funny. It wasn’t even my joke.

Anyway, my expectations were moderate at best yet this Sanday roast was better than I expected, and significantly better than the one I had in London before my holiday. Plus we got to eat our Sanday roast with this view:

Shakespeare Pub, San Diego, Roast Dinner In The Sunshine

OK, there’s a car park in front then a highway…hang on…have I just used an American word? I mean, main road.

The highlight of the roast was the plump, juicy chicken – bravo USA. The worst thing about the meal was the roast potatoes…but that is nothing unusual.

My accomplice scored hers a 7.40 out of 10, and I’m scoring it a healthy 7.10 out of 10.

So a very respectable start to my worldwide roast dinner adventures.

I’d love to say that I’ll be back with another review soon, but I probably won’t be. Maybe you’ll have to wait until 2023. Maybe you won’t. Hopefully I’ll be back before he is.

Trump Truck

Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.

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