Neville's British Pantry
8125 161st Avenue NE
Redmond WA 98052
Fancy British Cuisine? Head Over to Neville's
By: Bryan R
Ever since the advent of jumbo jets, online ticket booking, and simplified traveler's visas, taking a quick trip to England has never been so easy. But now it's even easier - all you need to do is take a quick trip to downtown Redmond and check out Neville's British Pantry. Founded in the late 1970s, Neville's has offered a little taste of England for over thirty years.
Located on a bland strip mall, Neville's initially blends in well. Only when you get close do you spy the British flags and a small wooden sign proclaiming "Neville's". But as soon as you step through the doorway, you've practically crossed international waters. The restaurant exudes Britain.
The decor, the layout, and even the proudly displayed beers are all distinctly British. I enjoyed the little British touches, such as the various china plates depicting various English scenes, the floral print lamps, and even the gentle golden wall plaster. The teapots even come with tea cozies! Of course, a British restaurant wouldn't be complete without plenty of English fare, ranging from the classic fish and chips to steak and kidney pies. In fact, when Prince Charles and Prince Philip made a tour of the Northwest many years ago, it was Neville's that provided the catering to the pair of traveling British royalty.
Even if you aren't in the mood for a chicken curry pasty or stilton burger, there are plenty of treats to sample from the Neville's Pantry and goods store next door. Then again, if it's a good game of soccer, er... "football" that is catching your fancy, you can watch that at the Lions Pub next to the pantry and also owned by Neville's. It's truly an all-in-one package for all things Anglo.
Although it's not suitable for any given day or any given craving, Neville's British Pantry can be a pleasant treat when the mood is right. The food is pleasant, but not powerful; interesting, but not particularly risky. In one word, it's English.
When we visited Neville's, I was in the mood for something slightly light and simple when I settled on the Sausage Rolls and Chips ($8.49). Two mildly spiced pork sausages were rolled in a flaky, buttery, croissant like dough. Tenderness was the name of the game for these little sausages that pleasantly lacked gristle and cartilage. The steak fry styled chips were good - dense just to the right level. The English truly know how to make a good chip! For dessert, I was successfully tempted by the traditional Sherry Triffle ($4.49), a British dessert made of custard, cake, jelly, and whip cream. A small hint of lovely sherry permeated the sweetness. It was a pleasant and mild dessert with plenty of character.
Growing up in the Northwest, I've always had a soft spot for fish and chips. From the shanty by the ocean to high-end seafood restaurants, I've never been too shy to pursue this foodie delight. As Nevill's represented the country that invented fish and chips, I found myself more eager than even Sweeney Todd to get a taste of Briton.
Unfortunately, the Fish and Chips ($10.99) was too keenly reminiscent of my last trip to the UK, where I realized firsthand why anyone would ever travel the world looking for spices as the cuisine was an exercise in palate sensory deprivation. And deprived I was at Neville's, as the fish and chips was the worst I've had in a long time. The batter was uncomfortably thick and did not stick well to the fish. Not that it mattered, as the fish meat was akin to chewing on a rubber eraser, which is ironic, as I wouldn't mind to remove this experience from my memory.
Thinking that my experience may be saved by dessert, I ordered to go chocolate and whip cream covered eclair that looked mouth watering. When I tried it however, I was a taken aback by the fact that there was almost no sugar to the dessert whatsoever. It was to such a degree that I could only fathom that it is the preferred British style to enjoy cardboard and runny milk after dinner.
The Steak and Kidney Pie ($13.00) was stuffed with thick chunks of beef and kidney with a side salad with a choice of dressing. Stamped in the shape of a crescent moon, the pie had a very salty gravy that many people will probably think is similar to a chicken pot pie. On the meat itself, the beef was plain, with a typical texture and taste. The kidney meat was the best part of the dish, which had a smooth texture similar to liver. Portion-wise, the pie was a tad bit small and for the price, I would have hoped for something just a little bigger. In fact, the largest item on the plate was the side salad with dill dressing. The dressing was crisp and creamy which made the overall standard salad just a little more interesting. In terms of value, I thought it was a decent value until I walked over to the bakery section where I the same beef and kidney pie uncooked for about a 1/3 of the price.
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