POSTED ON APRIL 23, 2008:
British pub plays it smart by using beer as key ingredient and wench in its name
The Laughing Wench Pub
Kelly Williams Smith
Just the name should draw a crowd. Proprietor Edward King describes The Laughing Wench Pub and Restaurant as "a British style restaurant and pub with a family friendly environment (until the kitchen closes) serving British and American foods." When 'the kitchen closes,'--around 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on Friday and Saturday--it's a fun gathering place for the 21 and older crowd.
Walking into The Laughing Wench Pub, I observed the cozy and welcoming atmosphere. The tone was calm the day a friend and I ventured in to eat. The bar is simple, yet British in style, reminiscent of my times sipping an ale in a British pub while traveling the English countryside. The dining room is small, accommodating a modest amount of tables.
The building, just off Main Street in Jenks, has evidence of going through a number of transformations. An outdoor patio recently opened that will hold up to 30 people (more if standing) with an arbor soon to be installed. The upstairs is a work in progress, with a few rooms under construction. Already in place is a room available for private parties, a pool room and a dart room.
Originally from San Francisco, King has been in this business for a while, first as a bouncer at clubs, then working for Club Corporation of America, and now fulfilling his dream of "doing what I always wanted to do--owning my own place," he said.
King is working on a crowd-attracting menu. While he said most of the entrees are made in-house, the appetizers (Fried Mozzarella, Boneless Buffalo Wings, Shrimp, Onion Rings, Fried Mushrooms and a few other items), are not. The kitchen is presently too small. Still, the menu boasts of recognizable pub favorites.
We sampled the Onion Rings ($3.99) and Boneless Buffalo Wings ($5.99), which were satisfying. The Rings had a slightly sweet buttermilk-like batter; the Wings were battered chicken strips dipped in a hot wing sauce and served with Bleu Cheese dressing. Both were good for what they were.
Soups (Potato and Soup of the Day) and Salads (House and Caesar) are listed on the menu, but the Entrees and Sandwiches drew our attention. The Entrees include Fish & Chips, Beef Guinness, Strip Steak, Bangers & Mash, Shepherd's Pie and Ploughman's Lunch, all under $8 except the Steak, which is $17.99. Sandwiches include Chicken, Curry Chicken, Club and Classic Seasoned Burger.
The Beef Guinness ($6.49) is described as "a traditional beef stew with potatoes and onions cooked in a Guinness Stout Base" and served with thin slices of wheat bread. King begins with a roux made of Guinness and brown sugar, then adds 32 ounces of Guinness for every batch and simmers everything in a stockpot. The result is a very thick stew of tender beef and soft potatoes and onions with sweet hints from the brown sugar.
My friend had the Classic Seasoned Burger ($5.99), which we both found very good. For this burger, King said he hand pats the ground beef, adding special seasonings all the while and then charbroils it. My friend enjoyed this burger very much calling it a "happy surprise," and adding one recommendation to toast the bun rather than serving it seemingly just out of the package.
Since I had the Beef Guinness as my entrée, I just had to end my dinner with the Guinness Cake ($5.49). According to King, this chocolate cake made in-house has 16 ounces of Guinness in the batter. It is covered with a semi-sweet chocolate ganache, which hardens on the cake. This was a sweet, rich and dense cake--great for chocolate lovers.
King said other favorite entrees include the Fish & Chips (the current best seller) and the Shepherd's Pie, a traditional English casserole. A homemade batter, which includes New Castle Brown Ale, coats the cod and is fried to a golden brown.
And, in case you are wondering, the name "The Laughing Wench," was selected from an assortment of names submitted. "It was the one most marketable that we could get away with," laughed King. "We wanted a name that would bring people in to just relax, hang out and enjoy good food."
The Laughing Wench Pub
108 N. 1st St., Jenks
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