Do yourself a favor: Before you settle in at the Londoner, take a mini-tour of the premises, and appreciate why the restaurant should be re-christened the local British Museum of authentic English pub interior decorating.
Its walls are painted double-decker bus red. The Union Jack emblazons a rug. Everywhere you look there is a Notting Hill’s garage sale worth of photos of Queen Elizabeth, a pre-Diana, pre-gray-haired Prince Charles, Elton John and Freddie Mercury. Jack the Ripper also has a special place in the heart of the Londoner’s British-raised owner, Barry Tate. Tate opened the first Londoner in Addison in the mid-1990s, with Colleyville the fifth location in his empire.
The Londoner uses its pub-style authenticity — with its pewter-shadow lighting and long list of available beers — as a springboard to sample such British kitchen classics as bubble and squeak, fish and chips, or shepherd’s pie.
Of course, the Londoner has plenty of American bar staples such as a burger and wings and a 10-ounce grilled rib-eye, but where’s the adventure of voyaging to a British-style pub and not sampling all the transplanted Anglo classics?
Take a starter of two perfectly fried potato cakes, the centerpieces of the daffily named, bubble and squeak ($8). It was an all-around pleasing starter, yet its advertised filling of cabbage, yellow cheddar and onion eluded my palate. The salmon on toast ($10) came nicely smoked, and it conjured up a lox-and-bagels pairing with capers, red onions and tartar sauce. However, its thick size made it somewhat unwieldy to combine with the toast.
As for the chips and curry ($6), better known as french fries dusted with curry powder, the skin-on fries were beyond reproach, yet their spicing and the separate curry sauce were too timid.
The Guinness cheesesteak Mini-Me sliders ($11) were a highly successful marriage of the American sports bar’s eternal infatuation with the slider, with a British stout kick to the rib-eye.
No British pub experience is complete without a heaping plate of fish and chips ($13). The two-small-brick-sized pieces of Atlantic cod dominated the plate. While the fish was pleasantly flaky and moist, the exterior should have been crunchier. The tartar sauce elevated the entire dish with a welcome tang.
In a nod to the huge number of Indian restaurants all over London, the Londoner’s menu offers a perfectly respectable rendition of chicken tikka masala ($13). The chicken was nicely marinated in Greek yogurt and curry but the Indian spices were too mild.
There may be no greater antidote to the encroaching autumnal chill than the Londoner’s shepherd’s pie ($12). Served in a rustic pottery-dish, this pie was a soul-warming mix of ground beef, carrots, peas and yellow onions, all coddled in a rich gravy, and under a sublime twin roof of Swiss cheese and silken mashed potatoes. I’d become a shepherd tomorrow if I could eat this dish daily.
Don’t skip the shepherd’s pie, but make sure you save room for dessert. The “pudding” in the sticky toffee pudding ($7) is a British-style, pillowy cake. This confection is coated with an irresistibly sweet gloss of caramel and custard. More over-the-top sweetness is available in the politically-incorrect-named car bomb brownie ($7). This thick, decadent chocolate brownie wedge boasts an infusion of not one but three Irish alcohols: Guinness, Jameson Irish Whiskey and Baileys Irish Cream.
After my thoroughly authentic Londoner meal, eaten between quick swivels to glance at mesmerizing shots of the Sex Pistols and Jack the Ripper — as The Essential Clash was about to drop on the jukebox — I was almost tempted to belt out God Save the Queen and pay my check in pounds. The only thing my brief Londoner adventure didn’t require was my passport.