If you aren't au fait with the offerings available across the pond, then you are missing out on some of the best rib-sticking, savory meals. It goes to show that some comfort foods are universal, because British offerings tend to include potatoes, gravies, hearty meats and creamy sauces. In short, it's not exactly health food, which of course makes it taste way better.
White Lion Pub has long been one of my favorite finds here in Tulsa. There is nothing like it in the city, with its quintessentially British cuisine and a truly unique destination and experience. It is in a completely obscure location behind the QuikTrip and McDonald's on 71st and Yale. It's one of those places that you have to know about; you don't just stumble upon it. The restaurant itself is actually a house and you enter through the doors downstairs.
I took refuge in the dark, cozy space of the pub with one of my favorite chums. "Cozy" may not even properly describe the small sanctuary of the White Lion's interior. The ceilings are low with a lot of dark wood and there are four rooms with some small wooden tables and chairs. The Churchill Room, however, is a bit more like a cigar room. Dark wood and rich colors add depth to the dimly lit pub and memorabilia lines the walls. The decor is more like a display of artifacts from bonny London and homage to U.K.
The ambience is unmatched for pubs in Tulsa, and I've been told it truly emulates English pubs. The proximity of diners to one another added a convivial feel, where conversation across tables can be had with fellow guests. A fellow fan of English fare was celebrating her birthday the night we were there, and one couldn't help but sing along to the familiar "Happy Birthday" tune. Singing in a pub doesn't just happen in movies, my friends.
Of course in a pub, a beer was a must and they have several heavy hitters available, including Guinness and Newcastle on tap ($5.50) and several bottle options. They also have a selection of wines and a full bar. But it is the authentic "pub grub" that gives White Lion a serious edge against other local pubs.
I've been many times, but it had been quite awhile since I'd paid a visit. One of my favorites to start with is the Baked Brie ($), served with green apples, and it may be the best in Tulsa. But I was told their Sausage Rolls ($) were a must-try, so we did. A delicious savory, slightly spicy sausage is wrapped in a heavenly puff pastry. Give one of these little bites a dunk in HP Sauce (a British version of our steak sauce) and you have a perfect partner for a frothy pint.
For the entrées, I always gravitate toward the Cockney Pride ($) which is the White Lion's bangers and mash. Bangers are a kind of sausage, and I'm a big fan of the Lion's. They came out piping hot, with the casing cooked to a perfect crisp that still left a nice snap with each bite. Tipping its hat to a breakfast sausage, minus the heavy sage or fennel, bangers are a luxurious sausage when dredged in the tawny brown gravy and smooth mashed potatoes.
They often have evening specials, and the night I went Crab Cakes ($) were on board. Two plump, dense crab cakes arrived with a creamy herb sauce on top. The cakes were moist, chocked full of crab and perfectly coated.
Lion, We're Not. A faithful customer enjoys his Kidney Pie and Newcastle brown at the authentic English pub White Lion 6927 South Canton Ave
My lovely lady companion ordered the Lord Devonshire ($7.75) and just reading the description alone made us feel warm and fuzzy. The White Lion's legendary puff pastry is stuffed with luscious mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese. It was a creamy, steamy carb-fest.
The perfect puffed pastry also finds its way to other dishes, like their Beef Pasty ($) which includes a beefy concoction with a dark gravy, peas and carrots, a dish that is ubiquitious in the U.K., along with the Steak and Kidney Pie ($) -- yes, kidney.
Of course, a proper pub would be remiss if they didn't have Fish and Chips ($) and at White Lion the chips, or nice chunks of potatoes golden fried to perfection, are served alongside three large, fantastic filets of fried fish. For a little tang, toss a little malt vinegar on that and Bob's your uncle!
Maybe the best thing about White Lion Pub isn't what is on the menu at all. It's a delightful woman named Betty, the proprietor of the place, and more accurately, the heart and soul. She makes her rounds through the dining rooms making sure her guests feel welcome. With each shoulder pat, and her doting manner, she makes you feel like family. It's the same genuine care and attention that give guests a true and gracious taste of England in every bite and every sip you take.
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