Elephant&Castle

Photo by Elliot Brown via Flickr

Right in the heart of the financial district, just a few streets down from bustling Chinatown, lies the infamous Elephant&Castle [161 Devonshire Street, Boston, MA 02110].

Cozy yet immensely energetic, Elephant&Castle epitomizes the hangout for a good time with good food and drinks. What more could you ask for, really?

But why the curious name, you might ask?

Well the tale goes (according to the establishment’s website), “around the 14th century, Charles I was betrothed to a Spanish princess from Castille. She was known as “Infanta de Castille”. Then, as now, the royal family’s activities were subject to gossip in all the pubs and inns across the land. In addition, the Cockneys of London, who had no bilingual training, had problems with the Spanish language. It was not long before Infanta de Castille had become mockingly known to commoners of the day as “Elephant&Castle.” At the height of this calamity, an enterprising innkeeper decided to name his establishment after the young woman, thus creating the first Elephant&Castle Pub. In jolly old England this original Elephant&Castle Pub still operates in London today.”

Here in Boston, the pub offers a taste of that hard-to-find authentic English cuisine. And, of course, beer.

Tucked within the maze of windy side streets that make up the Financial District, you would be forgiven for not recognizing the pub. Step into the establishment, however, and you’ll quickly notice how large the venue is. Television screens line the corners of the walls, and British-themed memorabilia showcase the pub’s heritage. A full bar with seating is the centerpiece of the establishment, just like down at your “local”.

But where Elephant&Castle really shines is in its cuisine. As I mentioned earlier, authentic British food is difficult to find, even in Boston. On a recent trip to the pub, my girlfriend and I ordered a plate of Fish and Chips and a Shepherd’s Pie, as we wanted to test just how “British” this place was. In addition to our food, we ordered some light beer and cider. Both of which I’m unsure how to review as beer and liquor is quite consistent regardless of location.

Nevertheless, the wait staff was pleasant and quick to help whenever we needed. The ambience of the restaurant suited the casualness of our evening. And the sport on the television was amusing entertainment for the wait – if I remember correctly, I think it was baseball.

Both the Fish and Chips and Shepherd’s Pie dishes were fantastic and complemented our liquor very well. I traveled to London a few years ago and had myself some takeaway Fish and Chips from a corner shop. I still remember how good that experience was and have looked for something close ever since. Elephant&Castle’s Fish and Chips come very close. The Shepherd’s Pie, which to those unfamiliar is made of ground beef and vegetables topped with mashed potato, was ridiculously good. I’ve never had a more juicy and tasty pie in my life. If you make your way to Elephant&Castle, I highly recommend ordering this dish.

But more than just those two dishes, I recommend taking an evening and venturing into the Financial District to try Elephant&Castle. If you’re the drinking type, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re the eating type, you’ll enjoy it. If you’re the chatting type, you’ll enjoy it. There is no wonder why the pub’s mission statement is to be the “favorite neighborhood pub for dining, drinking, and gathering” because that is exactly what Elephant&Castle is.

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