Monday, February 25, 2013 , Updated 6:02 p.m., February 26, 2013
First look: The Londoner brings a piece of England to Lower Greenville
Welcome to your soccer headquarters.
DALLAS Dallasites can travel nearly anywhere in the world just by visiting Lower Greenville. A trip to Ireland is made possible by The Dubliner; a meal in the mountains of Lebanon can be found at Sevan G & G Cafe; and sushi at Teppo sends patrons to the heart of Japan.
Those in the area can now get a taste of the U.K. at The Londoner, which celebrated its grand opening Saturday.
Located in the former space for Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill, The Londoner feels like a traditional pub on the streets of Chelsea. The restaurant is decked from top to bottom in dark wood with burgundy and sandy yellow accents. British emblems and soccer memorabilia adorn the walls, and local sports fans line the bar, cheering on their favorite rugby team.
The stone fireplace at the building’s entrance as well as the whiskey barrel tables give The Londoner a hole-in-the-wall ambience. However, the pub adapted to its surroundings through the development of an airy rooftop deck. (Dallas folks love to love their patios.)
Though The Londoner has technically been open since December, the sign for Greenville Avenue Bar & Grill remains starkly out front — an ode to the historic landmark building that dated back to the 1930s before burning down in 2010.
Tina Bartolo Simpson, director of human resources for The Londoner, said while the food initially draws patrons into The Londoner, the community atmosphere keeps them coming back. “We get people from England, Germany, Norway, Albania,” she said. “You don’t realize how many people are here and miss that piece of home.”
Bartolo Simpson’s own experience is testament to that familial connection. A U.K. native herself, she became involved with The Londoner after visiting the location in Uptown where both her children worked. One busy night she jumped up and started busing tables, seating new guests, and facilitating the restaurant’s workflow. Owner Barry Tate and his family can be caught doing the same on any given night, she said.
“If there’s something to be done, it’s not someone else’s job,” Bartolo Simpson said.
The menu takes a special inclination, however. The Londoner Chef Keith Neaville constructed a menu of traditional British staples that feel like comfort food: flaky fish and chips, hearty shepherd’s pie, and a Guinness-braised cheesesteak, to name a few. Brunch items, available Saturdays and Sundays until 3 p.m., include the Bubble & Squeak (potato cakes with eggs and bacon) and The Fully Monty (two eggs, bacon, one banger, potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, black beans, and toast).
Both Boddingtons English Pale Ale and Guinness are mainstays behind the bar, and the bar managers often revamp the cocktail menus to reflect a British sensibility, Bartolo Simpson said.
The most important piece of The Londoner puzzle, however, is soccer. The restaurant has one large projection screen and several televisions located throughout to appease soccer fans. Bartolo Simpson said The Londoner will open as early as 6 a.m. to show popular games, though TVs are first-come, first-served as to which game is played. If there’s no soccer on, next in the cue is rugby, and if there’s no rugby, The Londoner will televise American football.
The Greenville Avenue location is The Londoner’s fifth in DFW. The company is currently planning expansions in Fort Worth -- near Texas Christian University -- and Colleyville.
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