The Boar’s Head brings authentic food, good beer and British atmosphere to Augusta
Chris Anderson has loved British food since he was a child.
“I’ve been attracted to British pubs since the time I was three and I went to Epcot with the folks,” he laughed. “We walked by the British pub and I smelled the stale beer and the fish and chips and I wanted it.”
Chris didn’t get any beer that day, but his love of all things England has been going strong ever since. Chief among those loves is the food, which he says is much better than most people think.
“British food has an undeserved reputation and that’s because, after World War II, with rationing and the fact that the entire economy was devastated, people were taking shortcuts,” he explained. “And the food was bad. The ingredients were bad. But British food done right, it’s just meat and two veg. It’s home cooking. It’s comfort food, all of it.”
Fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, bangers and mash, Scotch eggs… these dishes and more are ones Chris taught himself to cook over the years. His love of the food, beer, culture and history of England, along with the frequent trips he and his mother Musa took there, made opening a pub in Augusta a no-brainer.
So the two opened the Boar’s Head Public House on December 27 in a space formerly occupied by the White Elephant.
“We have our tartan up there for the Anderson name, and that’s where we got the Boar’s Head name from because it’s on our crest,” Musa said of the name. “Someone said, ‘So you serve sandwiches with Boar’s Head meat?’ No. I know it’s a famous name but it’s actually from our [family] crest, and we wanted to make it family oriented.”
The restaurant, said Musa, was years in the making.
“We started entertaining the idea seriously I guess five or six years ago,” she said. “I said, wait until I retire and maybe we can do something. So when I retired, last March Chris said, ‘So when are we going to do this thing?’”
Before retiring, Musa worked at the VA for 31 years in quality management. Chris said he did “a little bit of everything.”
“I was a guitar player and that’s all I wanted to do other than this,” he admitted. “It was either going to be a cook or a guitar player and the guitar-playing thing didn’t work out like I wanted it to, so…”
The fact that Chris’ music career didn’t pan out may have been a good thing, because, although he has no formal training, he seems to be a natural in the kitchen.
“We have someone back there who’s been cooking for 20 years and he said he’s never seen anything like Chris in the kitchen,” Musa said. “It’s like a natural-born thing. He knows the food.”
“And I love cooking,” Chris added. “I’ve loved cooking for years and know the recipes by heart, so it really wasn’t hard to get in there and get it done.”
Authenticity is of paramount importance to Chris, and everything is made in-house. Customers are responding to the food, gobbling up items like the steak and Guinness pie and the Stilton burger, served with sautéed mushrooms and a Guinness reduction. In fact, everything on the menu seems to be popular.
“That’s hard to say because we sell equal amounts of just about everything,” Chris said when asked about customer favorites. “If I had to pick, I’d say the shepherd’s pie, the burgers, the steak and Guinness pie and the Scotch egg. We struggle to keep the sausage made that goes around it because we make all our own sausage.”
Authenticity doesn’t stop at the food, however. Chris, he and Musa explained, was the driving force behind everything from the condiments (Colman’s mustard, HP sauce, Sarson’s malt vinegar) to the décor to perhaps one of the most important components of a pub: the beer.
“If it’s a British pub you have to have the British mainstays,” he explained. “And I actually took two trips to London this year to kind of figure out what I wanted to do and the ones I liked best when I was in the pub I brought them back over here.”
On tap options includes Fuller’s ESB (extra special bitters), Wells Bombardier, Newcastle, Guinness and Hobgoblin. Beers are served in imperial pints.
“So you can order a half-pint, which is 10 ounces, or a full pint, which is 20, but we don’t do American 16-ounce pints,” Chris explained. “I was a stickler for that one. They had to be 20 ounces.”
Which brings us to the very important distinction between the British definition of a pub and the American definition. Though beer and alcohol are important to the English interpretation of a pub, the word actually is short for public house. Pubs in England are more than just bars, and Chris and Musa want people in Augusta to understand the difference when it comes to the Boar’s Head as well. Anyone, from families with children to those who want to take advantage of the free wi-fi to older adults are welcome here.
“It’s a meeting house,” Chris explained. “It’s a public house and that’s why I chose the name, because it’s a social place. Everybody comes to talk about the day, talk about the weather… everybody comes to have fun. It’s a house that anybody is welcome in.” The Boar’s Head Public House
1135 Broad Street
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
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