San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Pub: Fish ‘n’ Chips ‘n’ Regulars

“WHAT’S in aname?”The Pub, at theentrance of the oldtown of EscazúCentral, the westernSan José suburb,reflects whata pub is all about;but there’s moreto a pub than simplyits name – it’sthe character apub develops thatmakes it special.This is certainly noticeable in theefforts Canadian owners ChristopherCottes and Caroline Van Morsal have putinto their small establishment.“I think we’ve filled a void in Escazú,”Cottes said, referring to the cosmopolitanwestern suburb where trendy bars, cafésand upscale restaurants dominate thescene.The Pub’s interior, designed around atraditional, carved-wood, dark mahogany coloredbar, is the focus of this meetingspot and home away from home for regularsof all nationalities, ranging in age fromtheir early 20s to more than 80.The background music is programmedto the time of day and according to customers’tastes, so chatting means just that– not screaming above ear-shatteringdecibels.The friendly staff will give you acheerful greeting and get to know you byname.“Ladies on their own who want to popin for a drink are always made to feel welcomeand comfortable. However, workingbarflies are definitely discouraged,” Cottesemphasized.COTTES and Van Morsal are the idealamiable publicans. The former escapedfrom the corporate world and now spends15-20 hours a day dedicated to a very differentbusiness.“I never feel I’m working when I’mworking,” he said with a laugh.Van Morsal, the mother of two youngchildren, is an experienced restaurateur.“It’s incredible how she manages twofamilies,” Cottes commented.Each week, they plan the menu, do theshopping and much of the cooking themselves.Both love to work in the kitchenconcocting treasured family recipes,despite having two chefs on hand. They arealways looking for new recipes, so if youhave a favorite, they’ll be delighted towhip it up and add it to their daily specials.Posted on a blackboard, the Special ofthe Day is usually in the ¢2,500 ($5.50)range and includes good old-fashionedroast dinners, chicken, pork or beef, meatloaf,yummy sausages in beer-and-onionsauce, fillet of salmon and, on Sunday, anArgentinean mixed grill. The all-daybreakfast on Saturday is also a popularitem.But the coup of the week, withoutquestion, is Friday’s Olde English Fish ‘n’Chips. Large pieces of fish in a deliciousbatter are served with huge, chunky chipsand – to the Brits’ delight – malt vinegar.Who knows? Requests for mushy peasmight be filled in the future.There’s nothing greasy about ThePub’s fish and chips, and they come servedon a plate, not wrapped in newspaper – atradition that has been banned in Englandby the health authorities, though many canvouch they have survived, since childhood,any adverse affects from this ageoldcustom.THE regular Pub menu includes barnibbles representing food from Costa Rica,Mexico and the United States: yuca withdip, plantain with refried beans, ceviche,jalapeño poppers, potato skins, Buffalowings, and a bocas plate with a samplingof many offerings – an excellent choice fortwo. Substantial fare such as hamburgers,BLTs, chicken quesadillas, chili con carne,nachos with all the trimmings, a Phillysteak sandwich, pub biscuits with gravyand chef salads will satisfy everybody’shunger pangs.For Canadians, the queen of Quebeccomfort food reigns. A rarity in this country,if available at all, the O CanadaPoutine is not to be missed. The basket ofFrench fries smothered in gravy and meltedcheese is a soggy delight for addictswho crave this weird and wonderful combination,or a must-try for the uninitiated.All the above dishes cost less than $5, soyour pocket book will have no complaintsas you munch to your heart’s content.“We have wall space to house rotatingart shows, and will also cater private parties.In the future an outdoor area at therear of the building, with tables andumbrellas, will be an added attraction,”Cottes commented.The Pub is open every day from 11a.m. to 2 a.m. It has a large parking lot atthe side of the building and is located 50meters west of Toycos, on the right-handside of the one-way street entering EscazúCentral. For information, call 288-3062.

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