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Originally published March 12, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 12, 2009 at 11:33 AM

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Puget Sound offers tastes of Britain in popular pubs and tearooms

Seattle and Puget Sound offer a taste of Britain in popular pubs and tearooms.

Special to The Seattle Times

If You Go

English experiences

Where we visited

The Three Lions Pub is at 8115 161st Ave. N.E., Redmond; 425-284-3399 or www.thethreelionspub.com.

The British Pantry Ltd. is at 8125 161st Ave. N.E., Redmond; 425-883-7511 or www.thebritishpantryltd.com.

At the British Pantry, Neville's Restaurant serves lunch at 11 a.m. daily; dinner from 5-9 p.m. Wednesday — Sunday; breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday. An individually plated afternoon tea ($10.99) is served from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Queen Mary Tea Room is at 2912 N.E. 55th St., Seattle; 206-527-2770 or www.queenmarytea.com. The food towers and tea that make up the afternoon tea ($28.99 per person) or the Royal Afternoon Tea with a glass of bubbly ($33.99) are available from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily.

Elizabeth & Alexander's English Tea Room is at 23808 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell; 425-489-9210 or www.e-a-englishtearoom.com/. Open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Afternoon tea ($25.95 per person), the traditionally heavier tea service with pastries, sandwiches, sweets and fruit, is served anytime.

Reservations: The tearooms are small. Reservation requirements vary, depending on size of group and time of day.

Around the region

Other English-style tearooms worth a look:

Willows Edge Tea Room, 15 Lincoln Ave., Mukilteo; 425-438-2092. A tearoom with a European feel where lunch and high tea are served 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday; and 12:30-4 p.m. Sunday. High tea includes three-tiered plates with savories and sweets, finger sandwiches and fruit and tea.

The Secret Garden Tea Room & Gift Shop, 1711 Elm St., Sumner; 253-826-4479 or www.sgtea.com. Housed in the Herbert Williams House, a Victorian mansion built in 1890 and on the National Register of Historic Places. Tearoom is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m., gift shop 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. High tea served all day, $21.95-$31.95, and afternoon tea after 2:30 p.m. for $14.95.

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The blokes at the end of the bar shared a laugh and the fellow next to us awaited his bangers and mash while we dug into our shepherd's pie and fish and chips. Dart games were under way to the side of the fireplace. No one paid much attention to the soccer game being broadcast on multiple television screens even though we were in a pub that carries the nickname of England's national team.

Instead we watched the bartender's rapid-fire pull of draft handles featuring English beers — from ales and porters to a double chocolate brew — created by the likes of Bass, Boddingtons, Newcastle and Fuller's.

Around us on this early Friday evening conversations were laced with proper Queen's English, and from the decibel level everyone was having a jolly old time in this corner of London ... uh, well, make that ... Redmond.

While it felt as though we were in London, we were at a small strip mall in the heart of the Eastside, dining in The Three Lions Pub on Redmond's 161st Avenue Northeast. This stop was a part of our "across-the-pond staycation" — a trip that provided us a taste of England at places within 30 miles or 30 minutes of our Kirkland home.

Redmond

"An English pub has a good kitchen and a sense of community at the bar and this place has both," said one of the men at the bar, Stephen Walli, who moved here from Toronto 10 years ago. "It isn't about the decorations."

The Three Lions is the newest addition to a Redmond landmark, The British Pantry Ltd. Founded in 1978 by Fred and Mavis Redman, and now with the involvement of their adult children, Neville and Alvia Redman, the family business has grown to include the pub and a restaurant, flanking a British-style store. The store is so chockablock with cases of English cheeses and fresh-baked pastries, and shelves of English groceries, from piccalilli to processed peas, gifts, cards, china teaware and teas, that it's best explored with a slow, exacting step.

Beryl Milne, who's worked at the British Pantry for 20 years, said, "We have a lot of Americans who've been to England and Scotland who come here and say they feel like they are back in England. And it costs so much to go there, they are coming here for a quick fix."

I'd savored my first taste of England earlier in the week at Neville's Restaurant at The British Pantry, where wainscoted walls display prints of thatched-roof cottages and English hunts. Teacups on saucers sit atop floral-print brocade table runners. A blue-and-white-print plate held my hearty Lancashire pasty and large green salad ($8.49), and my English tea ($1.95) was in a white china pot, the milk for it in a petite pitcher.

Martin Leahy, an Irishman transferred by his employer to Redmond from New York 18 years ago, said he and his wife have been loyal customers of the British Pantry because of the continuity in staff, the feeling of familiarity among staff and regular customers, and food he calls "fantastic."

Seattle

In the Queen Mary Tea Room in the Ravenna neighborhood, you are treated, quite literally, as royalty. You need only request a sparkling tiara to wear while dining.

Two friends and I chose to eat lunch as commoners although several diners, celebrating special occasions, were crowned with "diamond" tiaras.

We felt as if we'd entered a come-to-life English fairy tale as we sat shoulder-to-shoulder in this diminutive, chintz-wrapped tearoom watching triple-tiered plate racks filled with tiny cakes, crumpets, scones and cookies, fruit and sandwiches, being gingerly maneuvered onto small table tops next to pots of tea with wondrous names and tastes like Golden Monkey, Lemon Chiffon Rooibos and an Earl Grey blended from Sequim-grown lavender.

Owner Mary Greengo said her love of tea coupled with culinary, pastry and floral training led to the creation of her tearoom. "I've never had a cup of coffee in my life," she said.

This love of tea is reflected in the menu. It begins with a four-page listing of about 80 teas, much like a fine-dining wine list, making the selection of beverage more difficult than the meal choice. Our lunches were hearty, not the dainty, appetizer-sized portions we had expected. My grilled turkey sandwich arrived with "QM" branded into the bread, and the ginger carrot soup was served in a bone-china cup as dainty as the one I used for tea.

English ivy frames the restaurant's windows and two doves coo a greeting as you enter this two-decades-old institution that serves up breakfast, lunch and traditional formal tea Wednesday through Sunday.

Bothell

The sunshine through the ivy-bordered window was as warming as the heat from the free-standing gas fireplace in the Parlor Room at Elizabeth & Alexander's English Tea Room, on Bothell-Everett Highway, where my friend and I sipped tea as chamber music provided a backdrop to our conversation on a recent midweek morning.

We lingered for two hours surrounded by rustic elegance and savored our Cream Tea ($8.45), featuring two buttery currant-and-lemon scones so light they broke apart as we applied lemon curd, jam and whipped cream. Individual tea pots provided more tea than we could consume. It was an unhurried time at this small English-village-style tearoom, southwest of the Country Village entrance. As the lunch hour approached, tables filled in its Parlor, Churchill and Alexander rooms.

A comfortable, unrushed atmosphere was what Dean and Sue Hale envisioned when they began the tearoom just over a decade ago. "When we went out, we always looked for a nice place with a fireplace and music, and that was hard to find in the daytime," Sue recalled.

"We wanted this to be a slow-down, take-your-time place, and always envisioned the English tearoom with its quaintness and homeyness; a place where people gathered and talked," she said of the family-run business, which was named for one of their daughters and her husband, whose middle names are Elizabeth and Alexander.

Not far, and not much

So there you have it, imaginary vacationers. I'd downed a pint in a pub, lunched amid faux royalty and visited a country-village tearoom — traveling fewer than 50 miles and spending well under $100. A rather jolly good show.

Freelance writer Jackie Smith, of Kirkland, is a regular contributor to NWWeekend.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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