By Becky Billingsley
Sunday, March 20, 2011, Myrtle Beach - A British invasion is afoot in the Socastee area of Myrtle Beach with the opening of a new British restaurant called The Old Bull & Bush Pub & Eatery.
Proprietor John McCann is a native of Manchester, England, and he is creating a pub experience in the building at 4700 U.S. 17 Bypass that was formerly a long line of Italian restaurants including Mancuso's, Pastaria 811, Rossini's, Caruso's, Fratelli's and Mulberry Street.
The interior is full of dark wood furniture, and walls are a warm mustard color. While they don't yet have any high-backed booths like you might see in an English pub, there is a handsome red felt pool table topped with a trio of matching billiards spotlights. There's also a bar just beyond the front door where you can sip a pint and have a nosh.
In the kitchen are Executive Chef John McMaster and Sous-chef Derek Pruitt. McMaster is a graduate of the Baltimore School of Culinary Arts, and his previous experience includes working at Heritage Hills Golf Resort in York, Penn. The chef says he is having fun learning how to execute a British menu.
"I do a lot of French, Mediterranean and Southwest [cuisines]," he said at the pub on March 18. "The hardest thing about this menu is the wording. What we call a prawn here is a large shrimp. [In England] prawns are tiny shrimp. The wording is the complete opposite."
McMaster hasn't had any trouble mastering dishes such as Scottish Eggs, a delightful concoction of a hard-boiled egg with finely ground sausage pressed around it. That's then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried. It's served cut in half so you can see the pretty layers with the egg in the middle, and is plated atop a sauce that looks like Hollandaise but is the chef's secret wonderful creation with the bite of horseradish cream and a tiny sweetness we suspect is honey.
My friend (Kitchen Goddess Lisa McLaughlin) and I also tried the Fresh Cut Chips, which are not chips, but thick French fries that came with brown gravy and extraordinarily creamy house-made Ranch dressing for dipping. You can also get a "loaded" version of the chips (that are not chips) topped with cheese, bacon and Ranch.
Other appetizers ($3.50-$8) include Prawn Cocktail, Raspberry & Walnut Baked Brie, Sausage Rolls (sausage in puff pastry), Samosa (Indian spiced beef in puff pastry with balsamic glaze), and Onion Rings battered in black & tan beer batter and served with root beer barbecue sauce.
The Bull & Bush has Chili and Irish Stew, and three salads ($3.50-$5.50): Garden, Caesar and Greek.
Lunch specials are $5.50-$7, and a few of those include Quiche of the Day, Classic BLT, French Dip, Pub Burger, Steak & Cheese and Caesar Wrap with grilled chicken. All sandwiches come with chips. There's also a $6 lunch special where you can pick two from a list of soup, salad and sandwiches.
The Kitchen Goddess and I had a hard time choosing what to have for our entrees, and finally decided to just pick something with the intention of going back soon to try more. She had Shepherd's Pie with ground beef, carrots and onions in a light brown gravy that's topped with mashed potatoes and shredded cheese. I had Steak & Ale Pie where steak, ground beef and mini button mushrooms are infused with the flavor of thyme and capped with puff pastry. We both enjoyed our dishes and got two meals out of each one.
Other entrees ($11-$15) include Scottish Spare Ribs, Broiled Lamb Chops with mint sauce, Roasted Pork Loin with applesauce glaze, Classic Bangers & Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), Maryland Crab Cakes and Liver & Onions with an infusion of bacon that's served with mashed potatoes and beef demi-glace.
Want a British dessert? They have Steamed Sponge Pudding with Custard and a few other $5 selections.
The Bull & Bush is at 4700 U.S. 17 Bypass S. in Myrtle Beach, on the frontage road near the back gate by WBTW TV-13 and McDonald's, and the number is (843) 831-0505. It's open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Fridays, and the restaurant opens an hour earlier on Saturdays and Sundays "for the soccer game." There are plenty of televisions where you can watch.