Owner Paul Leach (left) and Partner/Chef John Hennessy have teamed up to provide an authentic English dining experience.

London Pub & Grill: Serving Up England’s Favorites

Jump across the pond at this unique British-themed eatery, where the menu includes an award-winning fish ‘n’ chips recipe. Discover what else is inside this new Crystal Lake favorite.

Owner Paul Leach (left) and Partner/Chef John Hennessy have teamed up to provide an authentic English dining experience.
Owner Paul Leach (left) and Partner/Chef John Hennessy have teamed up to provide an authentic English dining experience.

London Pub & Grill, 394 W. Virginia St., Crystal Lake, counts among its clientele many people with a warm spot in their hearts for England, either because they’ve traveled there or dream about doing so.

That’s the assessment of Paul Leach, co-owner of the thriving establishment which opened in October 2011, dispensing British beers along with such traditional dishes as steak-and-ale pie, bangers and mash, and roasted Yorkshire beef.

“We’re unique to the area, and our fare is authentic,” says Leach, who has run similar pubs in his native Liverpool, England. Also, for the past three years, he’s operated The Cottage, another Crystal Lake eatery.

London Pub & Grill’s most popular dish, fish and chips, is prepared with North Atlantic cod, and it’s the real deal. Americans aren’t the first to appreciate the restaurant’s recipe. “I’ve won awards with the recipe from the Master Federation of Fish Fryers in England,” Leach says.

Partner and Executive Chef John Hennessy honed his culinary skills running Montarra in Algonquin. Before that, he headed the dining room at Boulder Ridge Country Club in Lake in the Hills, and a steakhouse in Elgin bearing his name. His menu offers diners a selection of burgers and wraps, appetizers and salads, as well as steak, seafood and poultry entrees. The average meal tab can vary from $9 to $30.

One of Hennessy’s signature dishes is Parmesan-crusted lobster tossed in Hennessy cognac sauce, accompanied by two port-wine marinated beef medallions topped with Boursin cheese.

Every Sunday, from 1 to 6 p.m., London Pub & Grill becomes a carvery, serving slow-roasted prime rib, bone-in ham and fresh roasted turkey with all the trimmings, sliced to order for diners tableside.
Another British institution, high tea, is observed from noon to 4:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday for walk-ins, and Sunday by reservation only. Service is $14.95 a person and includes imported teas; homemade scones with imported Devon-brand clotted cream; select pastries; and finger sandwiches – smoked salmon with dill cream cheese, roast beef with Swiss chard and horseradish, cucumber with tomato and cream cheese, and ham with Grey Poupon mustard. Champagne, by the glass or bottle, is available for an extra charge.

The restaurant seats 120 at tables and booths inside, plus 40 more at tables on a seasonal patio. It has the look and feel of an upmarket pub, with the Union Jack on display and photos of London landmarks reinforcing the theme.

A private party room for up to 50 is available for special gatherings. It’s equipped with a fireplace, cocktail bar, 10-foot projection screen and 72-inch TV.

The full-service bar offers a wide selection of domestic and imported beers on tap, including Tetley’s Bitter and Guinness, while British staples such as Boddington’s Pub Ale and Newcastle Brown Ale are available by bottle or can. Old Speckled Hen, another British favorite, is one of the pub’s biggest sellers.

Live entertainment is presented on Friday and Saturday, beginning at 10 p.m. Audiences can hear a mix of bands playing anything from blues and swing to jazz, rock and pop. Performers and dates are posted online at londonpubandgrill.com.

While it primarily draws locals, the pub also gets its share of Anglophiles from Lake in the Hills, Barrington and other neighboring communities.

London Pub & Grill is open Mon.-Thur. 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m-2 a.m., and Sun. noon-11 p.m., with the kitchen closing at 9 p.m.