It’s hard enough to decide on where to dine in Sarasota when we have a craving for a great pizza or sushi. . . but what do you do when the craving turns to the quintessential American comfort food – the hamburger?
On this night, the light bulb went on over my head, and we headed to our favorite English pub, Shakespeare’s English Pub on Osprey.
Now, England is known for a lot of things . . . James Bond, The Beatles, The Stones, Burberry Fashion, Kate Middleton, Elton John, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Druids – the list goes on and on, but for top-of-the-mind great food, not so much . So why, then, does Shakespeare’s English Pub have numerous awards and “Best of SRQ” accolades on their wall?
Simple. It’s the burgers! While the menu features any number of authentic English, and amazing “pub grub” offerings, the burgers are simply awesome, the service exceptional, and the atmosphere is as comfortable as your favorite jumper. (That’s a sweater in Brit-speak for anyone not familiar).
The publicans, Marilyn and Dick Neal, are longtime Sarasota restaurateurs, who have been in the biz in this location for what seems like forever, with a prior, and delightful venture at the corner of Webber and Beneva. But enough history.
I simply love to belly up to the bar whenever possible, and here it seems sacrilege to take a table . . . y’know?
By turns, our servers; Patrick Timothy O’Brien, (not a pubby stage name), and the lovely Ryann, were as charming and accommodating as you would hope for, and then some. I ordered a pint of “Raging Bitch IPA”, and given my predilection for whimsy, how could I not? Jill went for a lighter Kronenbourg Pilsener, and we proceeded to scrutinize the menu.
For the sake of blog and art, certainly not for our waistlines (oh, how we suffer for our art), we started with the Sausage Rolls, which are English style sausages in puff pastry. Naturally we took advantage of the HP Sauce as our condiment of choice. Delivered hot from the kitchen, the sausage had that distinct flavor of something you don’t get at the corner grocery store. Yum!
My dinner choice was exceedingly simple, as I had the singular goal of enjoying one of the best burgers in all of our fair community – this one topped with Balsamic Caramelized Onions & Brie, with chips (read: fries) naturally.
Jill, meanwhile, came dangerously close to caving in for a more traditional British meal. Maybe the Fish & Chips, or Bangers & Mash? But alas, the lure of Hawaiian Burger proved to great for her to resist. With Swiss cheese, bacon & grilled pineapple, what’s not to like? Between the juicy burger and the crunchy bacon, the sweet zing of the grilled pineapple was a real treat and something she’d like us to do at home!
Make mine medium, and Jill’s medium-rare, the burgers arrived not only perfectly grilled, but big enough that I was tempted to find a hamburger-helper to help me finish it. (Insert rim-shot sound effect here.)
Needless to say, we soldiered on and happily savored every morsel, and sorry, no second round of beverages or dessert was even a remote possibility at that point. So we simply enjoyed the laid-back vibe before calling it a night, knowing that Shakespeare’s should be on the radar screen of every burger-loving, beer-seeking English pub fan around.
Winner, winner, burger dinner for sure!