The Rose and Crown

For one month in the summer every four years, America becomes entranced with the sport it so often relegates to youth leagues. Both die-hard soccer enthusiasts and fair-weather fans gather in public spaces to cheer teams from around the world as the tournament progresses. One of the biggest concentrations of fan assembles at the Rose and Crown, a British pub in heart of Downtown Phoenix’s Heritage Square. The location is a quarter mile from the Third Street / Jefferson (eastbound) and Third Street / Washington (westbound) light rail stations.

fish and chips
fish and chips

Even during the long gaps between World Cups, the Rose and Crown remains a home for soccer fans. The building is the Silva house, a Victorian dwelling built at the turn of the last century. It has previously been home to more upscale tenants, Ruby Beet Gourmet and Circa 1900, both well-intentioned ventures that failed before the Rose and Crown succeeded with a more modest agenda. In fact, after some tentative expansions of its own menu over the years, the pub has recently streamlined its focus to concentrate on pub grub and draft beer.

shepherd's pie
shepherd’s pie

The historic structure lends itself to a classic pub layout of myriad small rooms rather than one expansive dining hall. There’s a foyer, but rather than waiting there, most customers just proceed to a preferred table or bar counter. All the rooms are filled with images of British icons from the Clash to Winston Churchill, but beyond the Britannia theme, each room has a distinctive personality. One is centered around a pool table, another has larger tables for groups and family dining, one has a quieter atmosphere, and one is filled with board games for all ages.

bangers and mash
bangers and mash

Any British pub should offer fish and chips, and the Rose and Crown serves two hearty pieces of beer-battered cod with thickly cut fries. So far, so good, but what’s really distinctive here is the tartar sauce. The often prosaic condiment that Montgomery Burns of the Simpsons once ridiculed as “tar-tar sauce” is given more attention than usual here, with big pieces of pickle throughout the white mayonnaise base. Think of it as a chunky salsa for fried fish. The accompanying coleslaw is also chunky and well-crafted with a bit of celery seed.

Phoenix burger with fries
Phoenix burger with fries

Other classic pub grub choices include bangers and mash, the traditional combination of sausage and potatoes with a side of gravy, and shepherd’s pie with braised beef under a layer of mashed potatoes. There’s not a lot of greenery listed on the menu here, but both entrees come with a mixed vegetable side dish. Sandwiches include a classic Reuben with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing over corned beef between slices of marble rye and a gooey grilled cheese with augmented with tomato, bacon, and the option to add avocado.

classic Reuben with potato salad
classic Reuben with potato salad

The Rose and Crown offers a simple pub burger of a half-pound ground beef patty with the typical fixings (lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle) on the side. Ketchup, mustard, malt vinegar, and hot sauce are at every table. The Phoenix burger takes a turn in a decidedly Southwestern direction with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, and avocado, and the Crown burger adds Swiss cheese, a fried egg, and bacon. All of the burgers and sandwiches come with thick pub-style fries as the default side, or a choice of coleslaw or chunky potato salad as alternatives.

grilled cheese with fries
grilled cheese with fries

The lightest items are soups and salad, two of which exist in each category. A thick clam chowder is laden with discernible bits of clam and copious chunks of potato. Another soup includes ale and leek, an adaption of the classic French onion soup from across the channel. The grilled chicken Caesar is exactly as expected with white meat poultry on top of abundant romaine, croutons, and parmesan. The BLT salad is inventive with its leaves of mixed lettuces topped not only with bacon and tomato, but also wedges of avocado and feta cheese.

IMG_5781.jpg

No dessert is listed on the menu, and it’s unlikely that anyone would have room for “pudding,” as it would be called in the U.K., after a pub meal. Any extra calories are more likely to come from the selection of beers on tap. In fact, the beer lineup is likely to be the first thing customers see upon entry. All the usual suspects are here: Guinness, Fuller’s, and Bass are among the British brews. There are also local selections like Four Peaks Peach Ale or St. Mary’s Pale Ale. Wine and cocktails are also available, although this pub is clearly oriented toward beer drinkers.

English leak and ale soup
English leak and ale soup

The service here is definitely pub-like in terms of the need for a bit of a self-help approach. The bar in the house’s foyer serves as a sort of de facto host station. It’s the best place to check in and make one’s presence known to the staff before taking a seat in one of the rooms or on the patio. Still, don’t expect to be led to a table and don’t be surprised if it’s necessary to head back to the bar during peak hours to pay the tab at the end of the meal. On the other hand, you may find more than one employee checking on each table as part of a team approach to service.

Four Peaks Peach Ale
Four Peaks Peach Ale

During each World Cup, there are often optimistic predictions that soccer has finally reached a tipping point in the United States. That sentiment is somewhat undermined by the American failure to even qualify for the tournament in 2018, but partially redeemed by the successful bid for the U.S. to jointly host the event in partnership with Mexico and Canada in 2026. The most realistic scenario for American soccer is probably somewhere in between, but regardless of what happens on the playing field, the Rose and Crown scores some goals of its own.

628 E. Adams St., Phoenix AZ 85004
Third Street / Washington (westbound) and Third Street / Jefferson (eastbound) stations
(602) 256-0223

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