The Empire Strikes Back

They may have lost that 1776 thing, but a "Full English" breakfast at Lucky Baldwins is still the bloody best way to start your day

Friday, July 3, 2015 | 9:35 pm

TwoSome of you might remember that little dust-up some 239 years ago? Between America and England? Taxation without representation? The first British Invasion? The right to this? The right to that? Right. The American Revolution.

And then some 20 years after the Bicentennial, England staked its claim in the United States yet again, next to an alley off Raymond, just south of Colorado Boulevard. That’s when Peggy Simonian and the late David Farnsworth walked in and took over.

The site of the original Lucky Baldwins Pub has always been an English Style Pub, but Simonian and Farnsworth have been putting their own signature on it since they took over.

“David Farnsworth and I were both from Britain and it’s just the right thing to do there, to have a pub,” Simonian said recently.

“So, in the beginning it was a very, very traditionally British pub,” she said. “The majority of the beers were on tap, I had about nine beers on tap then, all English beers. We focused mainly on the British foods. We just started with what we knew. That’s how it all started.”

Other breakfast choices abound, no less tasty and fortifying. In the beginning, she remembered, it was difficult to even get people to walk by, let alone cross the transom.

As Simonian recalled, “When we first started, nobody came off the street at Colorado Boulevard. Everybody seem to gravitate there and nobody came back here. So it’s was really hard to get going and to let people to know where we were. Once people did start coming here, it was really the power of word of mouth, very, very powerful in promoting us.”

And, since then, the pub has been opening for breakfast every morning.

“We are very well known for our English breakfast, which has the Irish bacon, and the English bangers (sausages), and we are known for our fish and chips, which is very traditional as well,” Simonian explained.

“When people come in they’re often surprised at the selection of breakfast items,” added General Manager Jaime Brokken. “It’s full English, something very traditional. It’s a little taste of Britain for people who are not familiar with it. It includes an English banger, Irish bacon and then of course your eggs, roasted tomato, Heinz beans — which are different from the beans here in the United States. We import all of these British foods directly from England to offer our customers the real deal.”

Said Brokken, “People I talk to, say they love coming here for breakfast on a Sunday,. They bring in their dogs, and they get a really traditional English breakfast (especially the Heinz baked beans, which for an English person is very important). It’s very important for a traditional English breakfast.”

(A full and proper British breakfast is actually called “The Full Monty.” Yes, like the movie) after British General Lord Montgomery, a WWII war hero who ate a “full” British breakfast every morning. Now you’re smarter.)

Lucky Baldwins also makes its own home-made tartar sauce, along with steak mushroom pies, chicken vegetable pies, Shepherd’s pie (imagine a pot pie with mashed potatoes as the top crust), and Cornish meat pies.

The menu at Lucky Baldwins has changed a little over the years, but still maintains its most traditional core dishes.

“We make our own home-made pastas, we have sausage rolls, there’s still very much an element of British food in our menu. But as things have evolved over the years, we put in our own Lucky Baldwins hamburgers. But we are still very much known for our fish and chips, hands down.”

And that’s just the food. Lucky’s is also known for the vast selection of premium quality beers, having begun offering craft beers before everyone and their neighbor who has a friend was doing it…

They began with Belgian beers and things took off from there.

“We held Belgian events here in the patio, where the distributor would come and dress up as a monk and he would open up the bottles and describe the different beers that we were serving,” said Simonian.

“I would see ourselves more as educators,” she said, “because back then, people didn’t know as much about beers, and once they would try these, and it was like, ‘Wow this beer is amazing! There’s so much going on.” So slowly, slowly, again, by word of mouth it just spread.”

This begat their Belgian beer festivals.

IMG_8170“We have whole pallets of Belgian beer here, since there was none being imported to the US. David was very much in contact with breweries in Belgium to bring those beers over here so that we would have the selection for everyone. Customers from Santa Monica would ride the bus to come for our festivals because these beers weren’t available on the west side,” Simonian said.

And certainly, it wouldn’t be an English pub without soccer (call it “football” in here, please.) Farnsworth was very much involved in soccer did everything he could to promote it. It didn’t hurt that the 1994 World Cup was held a few miles away in the Rose Bowl, either. These days, “Luckys” is a popular hangout for football viewing and rooting throughout the year.

Let’s recap, shall we? American Revolution, 1776. Lucky Baldwins new owners in 1996. Full breakfast. And football. And bangers. And beans.

There is also a wood-fenced patio which creates a lovely, Sunday morning ambience in which to enjoy your bangers, your beans, your Beatles, and the whole English thing.

The Old Pasadena location is open every day of the week at 8 a.m. for breakfast as is their Sierra Madre location. Their Trappiste Pub and Cafe location opens at 11 a.m., Mondays through Fridays.

From Lord Cornwallis to Lord Montgomery, if it’s British, there’s likely a taste of it at Lucky Baldwins.

The original Lucky Baldwins is at 17 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena. (626) 795-0652. Lucky Baldwins Trappiste is at 1770 East Colorado Boulevard. Call (626) 844-0447. Lucky Baldwins Delirium Cafe is at 21 Kersting Court in Sierra Madre. Call (626) 355-1140. www.luckybaldwins.com

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