An array of British foodstuffs should lend credibility to the new Cock n' Bull Pub in west Medford. That's assuming customers can find the venture, which is marked only by hand-written signs for fish and chips and other English specialties.
Toggling between social media and the bare-bones website (www.thecocknbullpub.com), would-be diners come to the conclusion that the British Goods Shoppe at White's Country Farm moved a couple of miles toward downtown to the former location of Flappers Wild West Wings, 1213 W. Main St. The Cock n' Bull site also shows a tea room at the spot, which piqued my interest.
Dining out with(the Mail Tribune
1213 W. Main St., Medford
Open from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
High tea is among my favorite food experiences, one that the Rogue Valley hasn't exactly embraced over the years. But with my husband's tastes leaning more toward pub fare, we made our first visit to the Cock n' Bull on a Saturday evening.
The restaurant's website still provides a link to Flappers, which I found puzzling. Even more puzzling is the Flappers sign looming over the tiny parking lot. New businesses that don't take down a former occupant's sign immediately usually paper over it to avoid confusion.
The confusion only grows upon entering the premises. At the front door, one notice proclaims that Flappers is open to minors, while the business hours are listed under the Cock n' Bull name. The menu covers read "Cock n' Bull," but the drink list has Flappers' logo.
One gains a little more clarity from a page inserted in the menu highlighting Flappers wings, apparently still offered at the Cock n' Bull.
In addition to the anticipated fish and chips, shepherd's pie, Cornish pasty and bangers and mash, meal choices range from burgers and pizza to Salisbury steak and pork ribs, priced from $8.95 to $12.95. With wings so prominently featured, we decided to start with an order of six ($7.50) in honey-barbecue sauce.
The fish and chips ($12.95) were essential, a dish that my husband, Will, and I both favor. But he gamely ordered the shepherd's pie ($9.95). Preferring dark beers, I skipped the Newcastle Brown Ale and ordered the local Pin-Up Porter.
Although we ordered the wings as an appetizer, the fish platter came out first. Rather than let it get cold, I dived into the Alaskan cod, which was moist and delicate under a light batter. Will appreciated that the fish came as a whole fillet, just as it does in the U.K., instead of strips or chunks. We both found the fries, albeit hand-cut, too greasy to eat more than a few.
The wings arrived in their basket with the sauce draped over the top, rather than coating them. Better wings are tossed in sauce, which we both expected to be spicier based on the menu notations.
The shepherd's pie didn't lack for heat, said Will, characterizing its temperature as "nuclear" all the way to the middle of the beef filling. We liked the mashed potatoes and melted cheese on top but thought the pie lacked seasoning and could be improved by incorporating vegetables in the filling rather than serving them on the side.
While the Cock n' Bull likely is refining its image, the owners perhaps should reconsider co-branding with Flappers. The wings may still have a following locally but also could be discouraging some diners from giving the pub a fair shot.
More effort seems to have gone into the tea room with its floral upholstery and displays of china cups and saucers, tiered tea trays, doilies and cozies amid the shelves of British sundries. This is the place to find custard powder, salad cream, digestive biscuits, mincemeat, super sticky treacle sponge pudding in a tin and, of course, PG Tips tea. The website mentions "home-baked goods" and "traditional English tea" but lists no menu. Verbiage implies that reservations are recommended.
Call 541-499-0778. Pub hours are noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
— Sarah Lemon