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ERIC BRADY | The Roanoke Times
Customers at the London Underground Pub in Blacksburg.
ERIC BRADY | The Roanoke Times
The complete English Breakfast – two eggs, bacon, sausage patty, baked Arabic beans, Amish breakfast casserole and an English muffin at the London Underground Pub in Blacksburg.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
A co-worker of mine keyed me in on the fact that the London Underground Pub in Blacksburg recently began serving English-style breakfast. I have always been a fan of the lunch and dinner menu at the Underground, particularly the pizzas, but the idea of breakfast in a bar was completely new .
A group of us braved the early-morning cold this winter to arrive at the pub for a 7 a.m. pre-work rendezvous. We trickled into the warm, surprisingly cheery bar and were greeted by a familiar face. Russell Chisholm , former owner of the Easy Chair Coffee Shop in Blacksburg, which closed last year, runs the Underground breakfast .
Although I was initially lured to the breakfast by the rumors of Scotch eggs (more on that later), I chickened out on my first visit. Instead, I had the more traditional Complete Breakfast ($7.99) consisting of two eggs, sausage, Amish breakfast casserole (sort of a savory bread pudding), Arabic beans, and half of an English muffin.
The over-easy eggs were good and the Amish casserole was filling, but the flavor somewhat forgettable. It was the small pot of slow-roasted Arabic beans, seasoned with just enough tomato and spice, that made the meal for me, warming me from the inside out. Baked beans are a staple in English breakfasts.
On my second visit to the bar, I decided I was ready to try the Scotch egg ($1.99 each) as a side to my bacon-onion marmalade sandwich ($4.99). The Scotch egg is a hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and deep fried. What I had feared was a greasy nightmare that would haunt my gut for the rest of the day. What I received instead was a tidy looking, breaded egg-shaped delicacy. The boiled egg is wrapped in a thin layer of sausage, lightly breaded, and fried to a crispy delight. The egg is surprisingly light, and the flavors and textures work wonderfully.
The bacon-onion marmalade consists of a deep brown caramelized onion glaze with a hint of bacon. The marmalade is slathered on a patty of sausage nestled neatly between two halves of a toasted English muffin.
While I appreciate the use of local ingredients when available, the sausage, which came from Leaping Waters Farm in Alleghany Springs, was a little lacking . Perhaps a tad more sage or a few extra hot pepper flecks would have given it more punch. The pour-over coffee ($2.50), touted as Blacksburg’s only pour-over coffee, is stupendous. A small contraption holds the grounds in a filter over individual mugs. Hot water poured over the ground beans gently steeps for a few minutes, leading to a smoky, caffeine-laden treat.
The lighting at the London Underground is dark in the morning, much as it is during the day or evening. But the patrons are bright-eyed and conversational, even in the relatively early-morning hours.
The whole experience gave an air of mischief to the rest of the day. I do not often begin my day with a visit to a bar, and those days never turn out as productive as a day fueled with good food and great coffee. While I thoroughly enjoyed the food and drink the Underground offers for breakfast, it is the ambiance that simply cannot be beat.
Weather JournalMidday update: More ice likely later