Restaurants & Bars

Kensington Circus Pub – fish, chips, gorgonzola onion rings & shu mai – what?

rworange | May 29, 200612:52 AM     3

I was surprised how much I liked this pub. All I ever read about this was that it had good fish & chips and was super kid friendly.

It has good fish & chips and is super kid friendly … and not annoying if you don’t have kids.

The onion rings drizzled with gorgonzola sauce – excellent
Chips –very good
Fish – good
Tartar sauce – not really. Stick to the malt vinegar
Cole slaw – healthy

The large slices of beer-battered onion rings were beyond delicious. If you don’t think you’d like the gorgonzola dressing, they would be good plain … but get the dressing. These must be eaten on site. I took some home and they don’t travel well.

The skin-on fries were very good with a deep potato flavor. The Icelandic cod was good. The beer-batter coating was just there. It wasn’t greasy and not the crispy kind. My preference remains the Icelandic cod fish at Frisco Fish in SF and it doesn’t hurt that Frisco Fish charges $7 while Kensington costs $11. Also Frisco Fish has a wonderful tartar sauce.

The tartar sauce at Kensington tasted like diced cole slaw. The cole slaw was completely undressed. Just shredded red and green cabbage. That’s it. Still, it was a very good dinner and I enjoyed it very much.

Mid fish & chips I thought of a recent unappetizing discussion on Chowhound about cod. I just didn’t look too closely at the fish, had another swig of beer and the thought was gone.

I ended with a one scoop sundae topped with the excellent salty/sweet toffee sauce. This sundae was about the whole. It was topped with chopped nuts and aerosol whipped cream.

I took some chowhounds suggestions and tried the Drake’s Expedition and the Fuller’s. Actually the suggestion was to try the Drakes and there were two other types – IPA and hefenweiser. I guessed about the Drakes because the word ‘special’ was next to the expedition.

Both were good, but next time I’m getting the draft Boddingtons. I loved this creamy beer when visiting England. The canned variety just isn’t as good as the draft so I’m glad to have a local source.

For some odd reason chicken & vegetable shu mai are on the menu … deep fried. Does that mean Kensington Circus gets included in the dim sum wars?

There’s also soup of the day with Semifreddi baguette. There are a few salads. For an additional charge, salad can be substituted for fries. That was really a nice looking salad.

There is British food and pub grub. There’s Shepard’s pie as well as bangers and mash. It seems they add a few things to remind you it is California. The bangers and mash come with a side of black beans.

The Shepard’s pie is described as “A traditional English lamb dish. Freshly ground lamb with white wine and apple cider added. Covered with mashed potatoes with mild cheddar and jack cheese” Would that be Union Jack cheese? Though I don’t see it on the menu, there was a report that it was served with salsa. I’d ask if you are going for traditional.version.

Sandwiches and burgers include: Cheddar chuck burger, garden burger with sharp English cheddar, grilled chicken pesto, and BBQ chicken.

The menu is rounded out with a few pastas, steak, pork chops & chips, sausages, lamb shish kebab and Sri Lankan chicken curry.

In addition to draft and bottled beers there are a few beer combos
- Black & tan – ESB & Guinness
- Snake bite – Trummer & cider
- Shandy – 7up & beer (traditional version is with lemonade)
- Black velvet – cider & Guinness

Cider is Blackthorn. There are a half a dozen wines by the glass.

In addition to the sundaes (raspberry cassis, sticky toffee, chocolate) there is a brownie sundae, sticky toffee cake and walnut pie.

It is just what the idealized pub should be. A place where families and neighbors get together, have a meal, beer and relax. The little play area is to the far left corner. The menu reminds patrons that children are not allowed to run around the pub.

So mom and dad relax at the table while the kids socialize with other kids. It is funny and true that there are two dart boards on the wall above the play area. Didn’t see anyone using them.

The meal is satisfying and Jophnathan Kauffman says it perfectly in the link to his review below "And for once (well, twice) in my life, food took second place to comfort."

There are three wooden booths, a number of tables covered with black and white oil check table cloths and a ten seat bar area on the opposite side of the restaurant from the play area. There are a few TVs on, tuned to sports programs. Benches outside invite people to gather and talk. Décor is beer posters, trays and things along that line.

The service is very nice and efficient. I really enjoyed the place and will be back for a Boddingtons. I wonder how shu mai goes with it.

I’m sure this isn’t always the case, but there was a woman sitting at the bar and breast feeding her baby. This being NoCal and all, it didn’t bother anyone. What was a little odd was she was drinking a beer while the baby was drinking … I hope not, beer-flavored milk.

Kensington Circus Pub
(510) 524-8814
389 Colusa Ave.
Kensington, CA 94707

Hours: Dinner: 5:30-10:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 5:00-10:00 p.m. Sat., 5:00-9:00 p.m. Sun.; bar stays open till about 11:30 p.m.

Link: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/Issues/...

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