The British are here, and it's all good

Our Gourmet
New Hampshire Union Leader
June 27. 2012 10:07AM

British Beer Company
1071 So. Willow St., Manchester

Serving: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days.

Cuisine: British pub fare and twists on American classics

Prices: Appetizers, salads and soups, $4.99 to $14.99; Burgers and sandwiches, $8.99 to $10.99; Pizzas, $10.99 to $16.99, Entrees, $10.99 to $18.99.

The British Beer Company has brought its version of the British pub to Manchester. Several locations are open in Massachusetts, but this, opened earlier this month, is the company's first in New Hampshire. You can't miss the yellow building that has replaced the old Chili's near Sports Authority. If you are looking for a place where you can enjoy a good beer and a good meal, this is the place to check out.

Menu: 18/20

We were surprised to see that the menu wasn't limited to pub fare; you could choose anything from a burger or pizza to Asian-inspired dishes and specialty salads. But if you are in the mood for British fare, you have plenty of choices including Bangers and Mash, Pasties (pastry crust served with different fillings), Fish and Chips and Shepherd's Pie. We not only appreciated the size and scope of the food menu, but also the beer menu. There are some great bars in the Manchester area, but few offer as good a selection of microbrews and no one offers as many beers from the UK, Ireland and Europe. BBC also offers a sizeable gluten-free menu (and gluten-free beer!)

Appetizers: 16/20

Our Gourmet: In a half-hearted attempt to eat "healthy," I bypassed the sliders, baked brie and Buffalo chicken dip and chose the Crispy Panko Encrusted Green Beans ($8.99), billed as their own creation, and served with a Parmesan peppercorn dipping sauce. They reminded me very much of a Polish dish made with green beans and breadcrumbs that I grew up eating, except we didn't have the tangy dipping sauce, which really made the dish. Plus, these were a lot less greasy. (7/10)

TDC: I chose the Coconut Shrimp ($10.99). The BBC serves this hand-battered coconut shrimp with orange marmalade and Dijon mustard dipping sauce on the side. The coconut shrimp is golden fried and the breading had just the right amount of crisp and coconut flavor. Whatever Dijon was in the dipping sauce was subtle as it had a pleasant sweetness to it that I really enjoyed. (9/10)

Entrees: 17/20

OG: What I've learned in life is that the general rule is meat plus beer plus crust equals delicious, so I took a chance on the Guinness Steak Pie ($13.99), topped with homemade puff pastry and served with a combo of sweet-potato fries and BBC pub fries.

Once you break through the flaky pastry, you are rewarded with fork-tender steak and well-seasoned thick beefy gravy. The fries served on the side were perfectly crispy. I ended up dunking many of them in the gravy. (9/10)

TDC: The Fish Tacos ($10.99) caught my eye because I saw that they were served with a pickled jalapeno relish, which captured my taste buds' curiosity. The tacos are served with your choice of a fresh-made hard or soft shell. I chose the soft tacos; each contained a piece of blackened haddock that was crisp on the outside, while being soft and flavorful on the inside. The rest of the garnishes included freshly made pickled jalapeno relish, avocado, shredded lettuce, diced onions, tomatoes and salsa. I liked the versatility of having the garnishes served on the side. This also came in handy as the jalapeno relish proved a little too sour for my taste. Overall these fish tacos made for a very enjoyable entrée. (8/10)

Desserts: 17/20

OG: The dessert menu isn't extensive or creative but if you are looking for a sweet ending, there are a few options. The Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake ($5.99) caught my attention. It was creamy and sweet as I had hoped it would be but you couldn't taste the Bailey's, which I expected to because, well, it is in the title. (6/10)

TDC: For dessert I had a Boston Crème Bombe ($5.99). The dessert comes out looking like a chocolate dome. With a cut of the fork the hardened chocolate gives way to a moist vanilla cake with a chilled cream at its center. This dessert is very similar to a Boston cream pie with its layers of delight, the only difference being the shape and harder chocolate coating. (8/10)

Final thoughts: 17/20

When you walk into the former Chili's location, you feel like you are in a historic pub in Boston rather than a restaurant in Manchester. You are greeted by dark, polished, woodwork and a warm atmosphere. Even though the place is sizable with a large bar, we still had to wait to be seated late on a weeknight. You can probably attribute that to the newness of the place, but we have a feeling that when word gets out about the beer and food selection, you'll still have to try to get a seat early.

Total: 85/100

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