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The Beach Gourmet: Ye Olde Kings Head:

Ye Olde Kings Head, on Santa Monica Boulevard, has for over 30 years, been a mainstay of British culture, British beer, and British food (these days recognized globally as amongst the most appealing available, thanks in part to a host of television chef personalities), and for many years has been identified as the place to go for that most traditional of British ornaments, a plate of fish and chips. But wait, things change, and it appears that there has been an evolution across the pond regarding their national dish. With a nod to their colonial past, the news is that the British national dish is now Indian in flavor, or, to be precise, British Raj (this refers to the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947) in history, namely the Chicken Tikka Massala, and Ye Olde Kings Head has revamped its menu accordingly, offering this creamy curry recipe ($13.95) and a host of other new dishes, as well as their traditional fare, for your delectation. I recently visited this British restaurant and pub with a pair of Anglophiles to see what has changed, and what has stayed true to good old British sensibilities.

Amongst the new appearances on the menu, when we visited, were Roasted Salmon (served with sautéed broccolini, and Mediterranean cous cous with béarnaise sauce, $18.95), Chicken Cordon Bleu (an 8oz. Chicken breast stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese, breaded and sautéed, served with a creamy mushroom sauce, fluffy mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables, $14.95), and the aforementioned Chicken Tikka Massala, that was without hesitation my choice of the day, whilst my friends chose the Queen Sized Fish & Chips (internationally famous cod from Iceland, served with steak fries, $13.95), and another menu newcomer, the Grilled Barnsley Chops (two 6oz. double lamb chops, served with garlic mashed potatoes, vegetables, and with a choice of mint sauce or mint jelly, and gravy, $18.95). My most famished friend also ordered a cup of New England Style Clam Chowder (served with a roll and butter, $4.95), which turned out to be very, very good indeed!

Service at “the head” is friendly and efficient, with our English server making us all feel at home by renaming us “luv,” or “darlin’.” The dishes arrived, and all were piping hot and nicely presented. The Chicken Tikka Massala was creamy and flavorful. Tender chunks of chicken, tandoor marinated, bathing in a mild sauce, served with pilau rice and a delicious naan bread, it was genuine and authentic.

I tasted a morsel of the lamb chops, with a dab of mint jelly and was gratified by the tenderness and natural flavor, whilst the cod was (having enjoyed it many times before) up to its usual high standard. Personally, I have never enjoyed better fish and chips anywhere else as good as the servings available at Ye Olde Kings Head, at least in this part of the world.

Ye Olde Kings Head, highly recommended!

116 Santa Monica Blvd.


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