A Seat at the Bar: Richmond Arms

Well, the search for My Bar in Houston continues.

White HartTuesday night was cold and rainy, a lot like Devon in southwest England. One of the great pubs of the world is there in Moretonhampsteadn: The White Hart.
So with Houston feeling more like Exmoor, I figured I’d give Richmond Arms, a British pub on Richmond Road and Fountain View, a try.
No one could accuse the owners of false advertising. Inside, it looks and feels like a small village pub in England or Ireland. There’s a long, L-shaped dark-wood bar with a brass foot railing that runs along the righthand side.
Behind the bar is about 30 taps, neon British beer signs, and cute bartenders. Other authentic features include framed soccer jerseys (English Premier League and 8 Nations games seem to be a major draw). Team flags — Arsenal and Sheffield — hang from the ceiling.
Richmond ArmsSo far, so good.
It was pretty packed for a nasty Tuesday night, with most of the seats taken at the bar. I managed to find a gap and order a pint. Most of Europe is well-represented at the taps: Abbey de Leffe from Belgium; Boddington’s and Bass from the U.K.; Guinness and Smithwicks from across the Irish Sea; along with Pilsner Urquell, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Stella, Amstel and Dos XX. There are some good American brews on tap, including one of my favorites, Magic Hat No. 9, as well as local favorites from St. Arnold, Karbach and Shiner.
With no room at the bar, I took my pint and stood at one of the wide pillars that have a carved shelf about waist-high, a perfect spot to rest your beer. The problem was, a Karback Hopadillo IPA was $6.75; that’s almost ballpark prices.
I didn’t eat, but the menu is as British as the decor. Some of this week’s specials include baked potato soup, lamb, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. The lunch menu includes the usual pub food — wings, fresh-made chips, potato skins.
In addiiton to some tables around the bar, there’s a sunken seating area complete with a fireplace that was roaring on this chilly evening. A video jukebox. And, of course, a corner with a dartboard. All of it punctuated by a good smattering of authentic British and Australian accents.
It’s a good place. I’ll probably come back and watch some soccer. But it’s not for me. Maybe I’m a cheapskate, but the $6.75 for a pint is a little too steep. And the place didn’t seem at all friendly. I didn’t feel like I could sit down at the bar and strike up a conversation with anyone.
So the search goes on. Stay tuned….

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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