Monday, December 31, 2007

The Cock & Bull English Pub

Cock & Bull English Pub
601 Main Street
Covington, KY
859-581-4253
http://www.theenglishpub.com/

Okay. Let’s get this out in the open right off the bat. I like beer. A lot. From locally produced microbrews and craft brews to exotic imports, I’ll try them all at least once – oftentimes more than once if truth be told. It’s not like I intentionally go out of my way to pickle my liver but new beers keep cropping up and hey, someone’s got to try them, right? With my Scotch-Irish and German roots, it’s almost a birthright really, and when you throw in a British husband, well, that’s just the shamrock on the head of a Guinness.

As far as beer goes, the Cock & Bull has an impressive selection. They keep around 25 Irish, English, German lagers, ales, stouts, bitters and American craft brews on tap, and boast another 70 bottled types (one of which is PBR -I’ll let that slide without further comment). Their selection is actually quite a bit better than many of the pubs I’ve been to in England, but this is because the majority of British pubs nowadays are brewery-controlled and serve only what the brewery allows. On our most recent visit to Blighty in September we were staggered by the dwindling number of Free Houses (pubs that are not brewery-controlled and can serve various brands) left in the country.

But selection isn’t everything, and English public houses have learned that good food is just as important as the kegs in the cellar. Even more importantly for vegetarians, English pubs have taken on board their needs and concerns and created some fantastic vegetarian options, none of which appear on the menu of the faux-English pub in Covington’s MainStrasse.

The Cock & Bull does offer a Garden Burger, which fulfills the vegetarian option requirement, and it’s not bad - but nothing really special either. It comes with pub chips (similar to home made potato chips), French fries or a side salad. It’s the only vegetarian entrée on the menu, although if you request it minus the ground beef, the Queen’s Nachos appetizer is large enough to qualify. Just don’t expect them to knock anything off the price, because they don't. Strike one.

The nachos they use in the appetizer weren't up to the task either. Every one I picked up cracked or crumbled to dust. It was exasperating trying to scoop up olives, tomatoes or jalapenos with them, and the sour cream was impossible. Even something as simple as dunking them in salsa was useless, because they fell to pieces. I gave up and left over half of it to go to waste. Strike two.

The pub didn’t strike out completely though, saved in the ninth inning by their fine draught assortment and hip (but excruciatingly loud) musical selections. I can understand cranking it up loud enough to make the pint glasses vibrate in the evenings, but we were there in the early afternoon. Who knows, maybe it helps keep the staff awake.

As an English pub, The Cock & Bull certainly isn’t the real deal, and as a viable option for vegetarians, it’s so-so. As your typical MainStrasse boozer, however, it’s better than average. Just eat elsewhere before getting your drink on.
Cock & Bull English Pub on Urbanspoon

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