Mick's Picks: Secreted away behind Park Road Shopping Center, Sir Edmond Halley's Restaurant and Freehouse might be my favorite spot to enjoy a pint of The Black Stuff. Some Celtic stalwarts may lambast me for posting an English pub pours the best Guinness when there are a handful of Irish pubs around town. I beg them to reconsider. For me, Sir Ed's, as it is affectionately known, isn't even so much about the interior ambiance but moreover the charming biergarten beside the entrance.
If you've never been to Sir Ed's, you can access it two ways: either by a brick staircase descending from the shopping center sidewalk (watch for the sign with a likeness of the famous comet's namesake) or by driving around back and following the marquees for Situl and the Gardens at Blackhawk. Back in high school, a friend and I were scouting locations for our senior prom dinner on the town and came across Sir Ed's. We opted for the more impressive choice to teenage girls and went to Alston's (which became McIntosh's and is now The Liberty) but I vowed to return when I turned 21. And I've come back many time since that first visit.
It isn't the fare that brings me back but that patio. I love sitting beneath the umbra of the massive oak trees in Myers Park, lounging at one of the wrought iron tables and reading a book or enjoy the sounds of the British Invasion cranking from the sound system. You feel so secluded looking at the murals, the garden art, the covered walkway that leads from the Kimberly condominiums to the shopping center- especially knowing there is a sea of congestion from the daily scramble just around the corner.
The revamped menu released after Sir Ed's shuttered the stores for a short while and since reopened is a step or three up from the fish n' chips/ shepherd's pie/ bangers and mash pub grub you expect from a place with the English Premier League on the TVs and cricket bats on the wall and dark wood tables tucked into quiet corners. Heck, there was even a quinoa-stuffed yellow pepper on the lunch menu. They used to have a sushi night one day a week in the past. I was dining on my own dime and limited to an hour lunch break so there wasn't much time to get cozy with questions for the chef and staff.
Because I felt like a light lunch I choose the chicken tenders and chips with a pint of Guinness Stout. My meal came with about three fat strips of chicken that were hand-breaded with the right dash of peppery spice in the batter. Their honey-mustard seemed like yellow French's mustard with a spoonful of honey stirred into the condiment. Adequate but nothing revolutionary for the world of honey mustard. I liked the crispy fries cut thick and laid out like a heap of golden 2 x 4's beneath the tenders. No doubt I enjoyed the meal but I'm not gonna linger any longer on tenders and fries. The real stars were my delicious, creamy pint of Guinness and the Gaelic beauty, Meagan, who served me. She seemed like the only one handling the lunch crowd and she managed the dining room and patio smoothly with a friendly smile.
Are you a fan of Sir Ed's? What are some of the standouts on the menu our readers should know about? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section.
I'll be back to the freehouse for more Guinness as the weather continues to cool and warrants a chaser of Jameson to perfect the atmosphere.