Tuesday, February 17, 2009

When I read in the local newspaper that a British gastropub was going to be opening up in Knoxville, I did toy briefly with the idea of camping out in a sleeping bag until the opening. I managed to restrain myself, but I was anxious to try it out.

I had been reading about the restaurant online, and the reviews were extremely mixed. It seems as if there are few tepid reviews -- people either love it or hate it.

This weekend I was finally able to pay it a visit. I had high hopes, particularly as the menu listed such British favorites as fish and chips, shepherd's pie and sticky toffee pudding. The outside of the restaurant looked especially promising, with window boxes and a pub sign decorating the entrance. However, this pleasant image was quickly dispelled upon entering. What dominates the inside of the "pub"? A GIGANTIC television. Was it showing the footie perhaps? Maybe the latest episode of Eastenders? How about the never-ending loop of Gordon Ramsey shows that dominates BBCAmerica? Sadly, none of those was on display. No, we were treated to the latest college (US) basketball game being shown on ESPN. I tell you, I had to pinch myself to believe I wasn't in London (eye roll).

So I was already in a somewhat irritated mood when I sat down to order. The menu we were handed was different from the one listed online. It seemed rather sparse, and, as others have mentioned, the food was rather expensive. The hubster and I both decided on the fish and chips. When the food arrived, the plate was dominated by the . . . somewhat odd presentation of the chips. To be fair, there were A LOT of chips, and the printed paper was supposed to simulate the newspaper wrapping of the traditional dish. Still, it was a bit unnecessary. However, I'm pleased to report that the food was really very good. The Atlantic cod was a lovely golden brown color (although missing the silvery skin that's always been present when I've had fish in Britain) and delicious.

Much to my irritation, the service was extremely slow. There were only two servers working, and while they seemed to be wandering around quite visibly, if they were asked for something (ketchup, a dessert menu, the check), it was absolute ages before they came back. The restaurant was probably only about 40% full, so I have no idea how they would have coped if it had actually been busy.

In short, the food was good, if pricey, but the service and atmosphere were sadly lacking. Unless I get a real hankering for fish and chips (not entirely out of the question), I doubt I'll be back.

Final Verdict on The Crown and Goose gastropub: Two Gherkins, for great food, but poor service and a disappointing overall presentation


Brit Fancy said...

How interesting would it be to be an American trying to open up an English style gastropub? Personally, I wouldn't want to risk it, because I would be too paranoid about it not being authentic enough. On the other hand, one must make money, so it has to appeal to Americans as well.

I used to live in New York City, and there is a great restaurant called Telephone Bar & Grill. It's not quite a gastropub, but it has really great food, including vegetarian shepard's pie! (I'm vegetarian). You should check it out if you're in NYC anytime soon!

MikeH said...

Whenever I'm back in the States and see an "Authentic Fish and Chips" sign (or an "Anuthentic American Diner" sign here) I always take it as a challenge.

Lisanne624 said...

Brit Fancy, the owner of the gastropub in Knoxville is supposedly from London! That's why I was hoping it would be somehow "different." However, it was indistinguishable from the restaurants to the left or right of it.

I'll look up the Telephone Bar & Grill when I'm in NYC! Sounds yummy.

Lisanne624 said...

Mike, you're a brave man. Your comment reminded me of the time I ordered "fried chicken" at a Chinese restaurant in Sweden (don't ask). I don't know what it was they brought me, but it was GREEN! Live and learn . . .

Expat mum said...

Well, you've got to give them credit for making the service somewhat like what you'd find in England - slow!

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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