SideDoor Pub in Corona del Mar, OC gives 45-year-old Five Crowns English Restaurant a much-needed update with fun 4 oz beer pours, real gastropub fare, and a cool, yet friendly, neighborhood feel – now The Crow Bar & Kitchen has serious competition.
- crisp, hints of raisin, dark color with a frothy head Wells Bombardier E.S.B. (England)
- smooth 'n creamy, flat "Brit style" Old Speckled Hen (England)
- refreshing, hoppy, honey-colored Rogue Dead Guy Ale (Oregon)
- light, sweet vanilla with mild hints of coconut Allagash Curieaux Tripel Ale (Maine)
- crisp, caramel, chocolatey
UnibroueTrois Pistoles Ale (Canada)
- golden banana, not-too-bitter Green Flash Le Freak Imperial IPA/Belgian Tripel (California)
Growing up with a father from Liverpool, it's only natural I've been going to Five Crowns ever since I was 6 – for the food of course. So, when I find out the restaurant revamped their old English pub inside to become a new gastropub, I thought, "Fantastic!" The first time I went I was so impressed by the beer, food, and vibe, I came back 2 days later – and ever since I've secretly been wanting to keep this review all to myself because the SideDoor is just that good.
But alas, here I am to deliver you the goods on Your Next Pint. Let's start with the mini 4 oz pour on the left (closest to the paddle's handle) and work our way to the right, including the 2nd picture. All pours, by the way, cost $3 each. Paddles come in 3's for $9 and 4's for $12.
Pour #1 Wells Bombardier E.S.B. (Extra Special/Strong Bitter) 4.3% ABV – It has a beautiful dark color that settles into a copper tone at the bottom of the glass. It has a frothy head, a bittersweet raisin taste, and has a crisper finish than most English beers.
Pour #2 Old Speckled Hen 5.2% ABV – For most people, this classic English beer is an acquired taste, if you're not used to the flatter, less bubbly beers of the Brits. It has a nice Amber color, a smooth malty flavor, and a thick foamy head.
Pour #3 Rogue Dead Guy Ale 6.5% ABV – At first sip, I thought to myself, "Why haven't I had this beer before because it's definitely going on my list!" It's refreshing like a lager, a little bit fruity, hoppy, and has a beautiful caramel color.
Pour #4 Allagash Curieaux Tripel Ale 11% ABV – If you love coconut like me, you might be a little disappointed. While this beer is fresh 'n fruity with sweet vanilla flavors, the coconut (at least for me) was way too mild, almost unnoticeable. It pours foggy like a Hef, and has a slight Bourbon finish from the Bourbon Barrel it's aged in.
Pour #5 Unibroue Trois Pistoles Ale 9% ABV – The minute this beer touched my lips, I knew it was a Unibroue, one of my favorites. It tastes like a crisper, lighter, less bitter version of Maudite with chocolate & clove notes, except adds a fruity caramel flavor, 1% ABV, and has a malty amber-brown color. Wow, I could really go for one now!
Snifter ($7) Green Flash Le Freak Imperial IPA/Belgian Tripel 9.2% ABV – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this one, and I think it's because the hoppy American Imperial IPA is blended with a Belgian Tripel to lighten the bitterness. It has flavors of banana and clove, is really refreshing, and pours a beautiful rich orange-light brown color.
Although we didn't try any bottled beers ($7-18) they do have 18 different kinds, including my favorite Maudite.
And if a glass of Rombauer wine ($15), Pimms #1 Cup ($10), or Macallan 18 Scotch ($30.5) is what you prefer to be poured, they've got that too. For those wimps who want water, it's available by request only, but served in a cute old-fashioned jug.
Now for some grub to go with your pub. Executive Chef Dennis Brask changes the menu every night, but usually keeps British classics like Shepherd's Pie & Fish 'n Chips on deck.
The Fish 'n Chips ($7 for 1 piece, $12 for 2 pieces) while expensive, were some of the best I've had at a pub or gastropub. The fish was tender and the breading was flaky, as it should be, and it wasn't greasy. The Chips were good, but I was more intrigued by the crispy fried leaves on them. And the tartar sauce was really amazing with fresh chopped pickles verging on cucumber.
As for the 20-minute Shepherd's Pie I had two different kinds on two different nights: Root Vegetable Mash ($10) & Wild Boar with Sage Potato Crust ($11). The Root Vegetable Mash HANDS DOWN was the best! It had an unexpected tangy, creaminess to it, which I later found out was Goat Cheese. The meat was tender, the gravy wasn't too thick and I'm tempted to call ahead for the days it's served. The Wild Boar with Sage Potato Crust, on the other hand, was a MAJOR disappointment. I'm not sure if they didn't let it cook long enough, but it was extremely soupy, more like a stew, and after having the tangy goat cheese one, the sage just didn't live up to it.
The Side of Asparagus with Shallots and Crispy Ham ($7) were the biggest asparagus I'd ever seen, and as my friend said, "the best asparagus I've ever had" – probably because of it's amazing bacon flavor. I also had a Side of the Steamed Brussel Sprouts with Chestnuts ($7) (not pictured) and was really surprised by the chestnuts' flaky texture and brown-butter flavor.
I think I would've enjoyed the StilCheddar Mac'n Cheese ($6) more if they used a different pasta than Penne, but the combination of the rich, creamy Blue Stilton & sharp Cheddar cheeses kept me comin' back for more.
While I didn't get to try the Charcuterie & Cheese ($4 Tastes, $10-16 Plates), I still snagged an eye-candy pic on my way out for your viewing pleasure – and boy did it look good.
As you can read, SideDoor Pub has a great range of updated English classics, and some International ones too – like Avocado Mash ($4) (not quite Guacamole) with housemade Sesame Pita Chips, Lentils Du Puy ($6), Roast Beef Cuban sandwich ($9), Swedish Limpa ($7) (think
Grilled Cheese), and GimmeMores ($7).
Well there you have it, my new favorite spot. When you go, just remember who told you about the place, so you can save me a seat, as it's "first come, first serve" – just like a traditional pub.
P.S. I overheard our kind waiter telling the table next to us he used to work for The Crow Bar & Kitchen. While I do love that place as it was one of the first gastropubs to hit the CdM strip, the SideDoor definitely brings in some stiff competition – and apparently their servers too.