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Cricketers Arms

Cricketers roastI’m getting excited about the upcoming Study Abroad program. I’ll be part of a team leading UCF students in a writing course about food and beverage experiences in London and Paris. We will arrive in London on the Fourth of July, or, as they refer to it in Britain, Wednesday.

I wonder if the U.S. will have any Independence Day celebrations as grand as yesterday’s spectacular flotilla down the Thames River as part of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee. I was enjoying watching it on BBC America, but something was missing from the experience. So I hopped in my car and drove down to Restaurant Row to watch the final moments at Cricketers Arms, an authentic British pub right here in Orlando.

Cricketers Arms has been around for a long time, but it’s been in more locations than some food trucks. It started out at the Mercado Mediterranean shopping complex, then moved up the road to Festival Bay mall when the Mercado was slated for demolition (probably a good decision). It closed at Festival Bay just over a year ago and found a new home on Sand Lake Road.

Cricketers is not fancy and doesn’t even try to pub-ify its decor -- no beer-soaked carpeting, for instance. It’s very utilitarian; a place for people to gather and chat and watch football or cricket on one of the several large-screen televisions. Or, as was the case Sunday, the special event being broadcast from London.

And, it being Sunday, Cricketers was offering a traditional Sunday roast of meat and veg, as they say. The meat was a prime rib and the veg were Bussels sprouts, peas (whole, not mushy) and carrots. Plus Yorkshire pudding and large hunks of roasted potatoes. It also included a thick soup that was not the Queen Mother consommé on the menu but was pretty tasty anyway. On the other end of the meal was a Windsor trifle that featured a jiggly custard with sweetened strawberries, topped with whipped cream and nuts. And the roast included a “bucks fizz,” or what is more commonly referred to as a mimosa. All for $16.99, which made it a pretty good bargain. The prime rib was a thin cut, and covered with lots of thick gravy. It wasn’t the medium-rare cut that I requested, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Cricketers pieMy companion ordered the shepherd’s pie, but the kitchen was out of it. (A neat trick at noon.) I couldn’t imagine the shepherd’s pie could have been any better than the steak and Guinness pie ordered instead. The thick gravy was loaded with lots of meat and had a wonderful ale-y flavor. And the crust was impressively flaky. The pie was accompanied by thick-cut fries, or chips, if you will.

It seems to me that Cricketers has gotten a lot better with its food than it managed in the early days. I’m hoping the students and I can find similarly good food in London next month.

Cricketers Arms is at 7563 Sand Lake Road, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily with late hours each evening. Here is a link to cricketersarmspub.com. The phone number is 407-730-2111.

Cricketers exterior

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Saturday, 19th April 2014

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