PRESCOTT, Ontario A trip across the Ogdensburg-Prescott bridge to the Red George Public House is like a trip back in time.
The British-style pub is named after Canadian War of 1812 hero Red George MacDonnell.
Located in the basement of a circa-1830 stone building on the Prescott waterfront, its a quiet gathering spot serving good food and grog.
We discovered this neat little spot on a recent weekday afternoon when we stopped by for a late lunch/early dinner. First impressions mean a lot, and two employees on a smoke break outdoors not far from the entrance to the restaurant was a bit of a turn-off.
But in their defense, there wasnt much going on inside midafternoon just a few chaps gathered around a big oak table, chatting and having a drink. The crowd doubled when our trio entered. Sturdy stools at the old-time wooden bar cried out sit here, which we did.
The place had the comfortable feel you expect from good pubs the world over.
Our bartender/server, Jeanette, was perfect for the place: talkative, informative and an all-around bundle of fun.
The menu is quite extensive, lots of pubby things youd expect Guinness pot pie, meatloaf, bangers and mash, smoked meats and things you wouldnt, like Thai spring rolls, escargot, steamed mussels, bacon-wrapped scallops and lots more.
But first, time for a beer. They have about 10 on tap in addition to the usual bottled suspects. Kronenbourg 1664, a European pale lager, got the attention of the beer expert in our group.
He explained to us that while American adjunct lagers (Bud, Coors, Molson, Labatt) use grains like rice and corn to reduce the amount (and cost) of barley malt, European pale lagers do not. The result is a much fuller-bodied beer with more complexity of taste.
In addition, they contain more hops, further broadening the flavor. Kronenbourg 1664, brewed in France since 1664 and now part of the Carlsberg Group, is a lovely example of this style. It has lots of character and depth of flavor.
For food, we started out with an appetizer, chevre dip ($8.99). A small ramekin contained the slightly melted goat cheese with tomatoes, jalapenos and herbs, served with lightly toasted Parmesan-dusted pita chips. The sharpness of the cheese was moderated by the tomato; the jalapenos added the right amount of heat without overpowering. Delicious.
Tomato rice soup ($3.99) was good homemade stuff. This old standby was superb, a rich tomato broth with crushed tomatoes, lots of herbs and spices with a slightly smoky taste. Was that paprika in there? Mmm-mmm-good.
Guinness pot pie ($11.99) was a must, a mix of tender beef cubes and pot pie vegetables swimming in a dark, rich, creamy-smooth Guinness gravy, topped with a flaky pastry that was just a bit soggy in the center. Crust notwithstanding, this was true down-home pub comfort food.
The homemade meatloaf ($10.99) was another delicious treat on a lingering winter day. How can something so simple be so good? And this version in particular was very good, smothered in gravy similar to the Guinness pie gravy with some mushrooms added.
Both the meatloaf and the pot pie come with either mashed potatoes or chef salad. We both went with the chef salad a bright and crisp blend of romaine, spring greens and lots more colorful and healthy. An impressive March salad. But Ill bet those mashed potatoes would have been great with that tasty gravy.
When we saw Glamorgan sausage ($9.99) on the menu we were intrigued. We were surprised to find out that it wasnt sausage at all, but cheddar cheese blended with egg and thyme, rolled into the shape of a sausage, coated in breadcrumbs and fried, served with mango chutney.
Theyre not sausage no spurting fat when you cut into them but they were nonetheless tasty with a surprisingly sausage-like chew. When we asked the cook, Hamish, about them he said they were from his grandmothers recipe box a recipe thats over 40 years old.
Desserts are all homemade.
With a name like butter tart ($3.50), how could you go wrong?
A butter tart is a small pastry considered one of Canadas quintessential desserts. Its a pastry shell with a deliciously sweet filling made of butter, brown sugar and eggs. This rich little finisher was covered with whipped cream and was not as overwhelmingly rich as the name would imply. Totally yummy.
Bread pudding ($5.99) was a great one. There is no one definitive bread pudding recipe, but this one with its raisins and cinnamon and slightly dry texture was a winner.
Food for three came to $67.15 in Canadian funds, which included 13 percent taxes.
Honest pours of beer (half liters) were $5 each. Top-shelf mixed drinks were $5.25.
Jeanette was priceless. After she poured our beer and found out where we were from, she said, So I guess the bars in the States dont open on Wednesdays?
The Red George Public House was a great find: good homemade comfort food in a comfy cozy spot down by the river, served by an engaging waitress/bartender with a great sense of humor.
Walter Siebel has been part of the Northern New York restaurant scene for more than three decades, cooking in restaurants from casual Adirondack eateries to fine-dining establishments, and lending his culinary talents to numerous charity events. You can contact him at email@example.com.
The Red George Public House
193 Water St. West
Prescott, Ontario, Canada
A British-style pub located in the basement of a circa-1830 stone building on the Prescott waterfront
HOURS:Food: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week
Bar:11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week
OUR PICKS: chevre dip, Guiness pot pie, meatloaf, Glamorgan sausage, butter tart, bread pudding,