Fairfax County has more than its share of Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Italian, Indian, and Chinese restaurants, also a fair representation of “American” eateries, a few Mexican and French, and even some Irish.
Though outnumbered, there’s even an English pub, as genuine as it can be this side of the Atlantic, lodged between a car wash and a nail/hair salon across Route 7 from the Seven Corners Shopping Center.
This is a real pub, complete with transplanted English chef, English brews, the requisite darts, plenty of British bric-a-brac--flags, jerseys, Beatles records, huge TVs with British sporting events, and the like--to provide the proper ambiance.
Public House No. 7 offers other attractions, too, including Saturday and Sunday brunch, live music, karaoke, and trivia nights. (The full schedule is posted on the Web site, www,publichouseno7.com.)
Chef Mark English, a native of West Yorkshire worked at Kinkaid’s and Rhodeside Grill but missed the neighborhood pubs of England. Finding none in northern Virginia, he decided to start one. He and his partner opened Public House No 7 in 2010.
Despite the other lures, the real star of Public House No. 7 may well be the food. This may come as a surprise because English food
is not always considered gourmet fare, especially when stacked up against all the other foods Fairfax County has to offer..
But with an English chef in the kitchen, one who clearly understand and appreciates the dishes of his native land, Public House No. 7’s food more than holds its own. Many of these dishes are ultimate comfort foods, hearty, delicious, and satisfying.
Start with the traditional British dishes, the crisp (and really good) fish and chips, the heaping plate of sausage and fluffy mashed potatoes smothered in onion gravy known to Brits as “bangers and mash,” or the excellent shepherd’s pie with its savory filling of ground beef, carrots and peas topped with mashed potatoes.
The traditional British “Sunday dinner” of roast beef with vegetables, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and gravy is among the other options on the “proper food” menu, along with a tender, falling off the bone lamb shank braised in red wine, chicken curry, and steak and stout pie.
Check the specials. At lunch two favorites, the lamb shank and vol au vent, a tasty mix of chicken and mushrooms in garlic herb cream sauce topped with puff pastry, served with soup of the day-- if it happens to be potato and shallot be sure to order--and dessert--the same goes for the chocolate fudge cake--are both a good deal and a hearty meal.
The “pub grub” menu includes such dishes as Welsh Rarebit and Scotch Egg (a hardboiled egg coated with sausage and deep fried), as well as what might be considered “fusion” dishes, such as mashed potatoes, bacon and cheddar wrapped in a tortilla, dubbed “English quesadillas,”
and potato crisp nachos.
The traditional pub-style “ploughman’s lunch,” a platter of assorted British cheeses, nuts, apple, a small salad and pickled onions, is hidden on the salad menu, and the sandwich/wrap listings include American hamburgers as well as “fish butty” the fish half of fish and chips on a buttered bun, while the kid’s menu offers mini hamburgers, as well as grilled cheese, chicken sticks, fish and chips and English beans on toast.
In short, Public House No. 7 offers something for everyone from kids to grandparents, and does it well, hallmarks of a successful neighborhood hangout or, in this case, a successfully transplanted British pub. Now, if you’ve never been to England, you need go no further than Falls Church for the pub experience.