Pros: One of a scant few places in and around LA for the ex-pat
Cons: Restaurant's attitude is an embarrassing and unsettling one for the ex-pat
Quotations from the description on Epinions:
As the most popular British pub and grub in town,
Ja, and Los Angeles businesses aren't complete liars. This is about as cute as the "Cat and Fiddle" in Hollywood claiming to be a "British Pub."
I suppose it could do the most traffic out of all the places making claims of British-ness, but it's a stretch. While packed on a weekend evening, the regular traffic is pretty slow. This is a good thing for those looking for a pub lunch, and a purely evil thing for those looking to hoist a pint in the evening.
King's Head attracts large crowds
This much is true. They don't really know how to deal with them, though. Be prepared to sit for a long time thinking you will be nice and make things convenient all around by not going up to the bar and waiting for your server. Give up a ridiculously long time later and head for the bartender. Get the evil eye and pointed remarks from the server who studiously ignored you until you bypassed her for the bartender. Yeesh!
It's as authentic as you get,
The jury is out on this one. The crowd is composed of Santa Monica ex-pats, and the genuinely English, mostly working-class clientele seems to concur that it's not too far removed from their 'local' back home. This verdict has to be tempered out with the fact that these people are invariably drinking Bud or Coors Light.
with the typically favored fish and chips, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie, served in the traditional style -- with warm beer, on tables that flank the always-busy dart boards.
If the "King's Head" is pouring warm beer, this is definitely news to me. Also news to me is the authenticity of the food -- the Welsh rarebit is Stouffer's. I'm not making that up, I'm not making a comparison -- I am a Welsh rarebit nutter, and there is absolutely no question in my mind that the "King's Head" version of it comes in an orange box. It comes piping hot and served with fresh, well-toasted muffins, but it's still Stouffer's.
The rest of the menu is okay pub fare -- unimpressive sandwiches, a few good fried items, an appropriately British curry, and so on. It's not exactly an eating destination, though now and then the cross of fried food and decent beverage selection and Churchill portraiture will draw you in.
(Note that like any respectable British pub, it has a good Indian restaurant a stone's throw away. You might want to eat there instead.)
My objections to the "King's Head" are mainly due to what I can only describe as issues with its attitude -- ridiculously spotty service, claims of great authenticity when part of the kitchen comes from Stouffer's, and claims of a relaxing "pub" atmosphere with too much loud music.
There is also something distinctly unnerving about walking under your foreign flag (Canadian, in this case) to be greeted by a sometimes ridiculously loutish bouncer. Do pubs in Britain have this? They certainly don't in Canada. At any rate, the last time I was there it was to take a visiting Canadian somewhere that might be a relaxing place for us to sit and reminisce and drink (cold) beer and eat (okay) food. My friend got 'carded.' The fellow at the door (complete with CIA-style headphone deal) did not, or pretended not to, recognize Canadian ID.
Fine. We weren't argumentative, shocked as we were that -- well, given the place's pretensions to be a little part of the Commonwealth despite its proximity to Santa Monica beach, we expected a simple, humble 'Let me check this one over with my manager.' Even if it was a complete lie, it still would've been a kind one. Instead, we got 'You screwed yourself! Sorry man, you screwed yourself!' Loudly, rudely -- I have no idea where the kid got it in himself to talk like that, since we'd been polite and quiet and were on our way out the door, but...
That last interlude was a sort of final insult: I won't be back, despite having been a semi-regular patron. The appeal is too limited, and nobody needs a poor sport putting a damper on a pub evening -- especially if that poor sport happens to be an employee.