If the building that houses Bad Boys of England looks curious, it may be because it didn't start out as an English restaurant and pub. It was once a Phillips 66 gas station. Look hard enough, and you can see the outline of bays where cars were once serviced. A scruffy, red telephone booth sits where the pumps once stood. The odd, ramshackle building is what happens when a service station gets a Tudor makeover.
The restaurant opened 25 years ago as the King's Head Pub. Earlier this year, owner Richard Hill did some renovating to tone down its musty British pubbishness. He renamed it Bad Boys of England. There's more light in the main dining room. A big, outdoor space invites lingering over beer. The old barroom still looks like a typical pub. It's a comfortably well-worn space.
But the real surprise at Bad Boys is the quality of the British pub fare. So often, food is an afterthought once the beer is cold, the musicians are hired and the dartboard has been hung.
But Hill and his right hand, Debra Chee Ping, pride themselves on making just about everything from scratch. Hill, who was born in the Cotswald area of England, has an extensive culinary background. He's worked for cruise lines as well as resorts and luxury hotels, including Hilton and Four Seasons.
His skill in the kitchen elevates Bad Boys from a bar to a neighborhood tavern that serves traditional British food along with American bar fare.
The other day at lunch, a cup of jambalaya-style soup ($4.95) with shredded chicken was deliciously hearty. The real wonder was a traditional Scotch egg ($9.95), a boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. It was served with a perfect little salad with house-made creamy dressing. The Scotch egg was created in 1738 at British department store Fortnum and Mason. The dish can be tragically greasy and rubbery. This one will restore your faith in this classic British food item.
Bad Boys' menu isn't all British. There are pot stickers and salads, burgers and chicken wings. Those wings can be ordered Jamaican jerk ($13.95 per dozen) or British curried ($14.95 per dozen). Likewise, french fries — called chips here — are available with cheese, gravy, curry ($6.95) or melted mozzarella ($7.95). I believe fries are considered a major food group in England?
The menu also features several traditionally British-style curry dishes and a section of West Country Home Cooking, where you'll find bangers and mash ($11.95), the Ploughman's combination ($14.95) and sandwiches, or "butties," including English sausage ($11.95) and English bacon ($11.95) with grilled tomato, mushrooms, onions and chips.
Fish and chips can be had with flounder ($13.95) or, my favorite, cod loin ($17.95). The 10-ounce fillet is beer-battered and deep-fried and served with crisp fries and a pile of green peas. The tartar sauce is made in-house. Along with shepherd's pie ($12.95) and steak and kidney pie ($15.95), Hill makes an amazing Princess Diana's chicken pie ($12.95), with creamy golden mushroom gravy. It's served in an individually sized ceramic dish topped with buttery puffy pastry, like all the pies on the menu.
As you'd hope, there's a separate beer menu, on which you'll find 12 different drafts from as far away as Great Britain and Germany and as close as Oakland Park's Funky Buddha Brewery.
"I do not carry any Budweiser products," Hill says.
He does, however, make a very good Pimm's No. 1 Cup. And the bar stocks Greenall's Gin.
500 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach
Cuisine: English and American pub fare
Hours: Lunch and dinner daily
Reservations: Not necessary
Credit cards: DC, D, MC, V
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Moderate
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs, boosters
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot