Tuesday, January 17, 2012

First Bite: Fleet Street Pub

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 5:43 AM

Fleet Streets shepherds pie
  • Fleet Street's shepherd's pie
First things first: anyone who says pub food in the States can't match pub food in England must have been really lucky in England.

It's a good thing, then, that Fleet Street Pub, which recently opened downtown in Printers Alley, has taken liberties with traditional English pub food. Give me liberties with English pub food. Please.

When Bites dropped by Fleet Street last summer, proprietor Glenn Henderson said he was committed to really good pub-style food. And he followed through, putting veteran Nashville chef Warren Sanders in the kitchen. Man knows his way around some ingredients and techniques.

On pub favorites, Fleet Street vastly exceeds expectations. Shepherd's pie combined finely chopped lamb and vegetables in a thick, nicely spiced gravy, dolloped with with rich whipped potatoes. The whole thing is run under a broiler for a gorgeous tan finish. Paddington potato soup is the creamy variety, rich and hearty, with a warm tawny color that's so inviting.

Did you say "fish and chips"? You did! In his search for the city's best fish and chips, Bites' Chris Chamberlain will be outlining various options, but by way of a hint, Fleet's Street's isn't "Rule Britannia"-style batter, tartar sauce or chips. These chips are cut into planks, sort of, then cooked three different ways, and the first bite of one is revelation of what the lowly potato can become.

Fleet Streets take on hot chicken, the hot hen
  • Fleet Street's take on hot chicken, the hot hen

But the menu goes so much further. Hatton Cross Hen is a cornish hen half-cooked sous vide, then coated with cornmeal and spices before frying, so the meat inside is fork-tender, almost custardy in tenderness. A bronze-red crust is crisp, sandy and deeply flavorful with a touch of heat, and satisfying enough that you really do want to gnaw the bones.

The salads were thoughtfully conceived from well-chosen ingredients, freshly made and served with homemade dressing.

I'm eager to return for beef and puddings, the chicken pie and curry — if you've had them, put your First Bite in the comments.

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