by Gary Will
Chicago may have its Greek town, and San Francisco its China Town, but here in Peoria we have our own ‘Little England’ in the form of The Fox Pub and Café. Hidden away in a small strip mall off of Pioneer Parkway (for those of you who remember, I believe it’s where Double A’s Pizza used to reside).
Now it would be easy for me to jump straight into my review of this gem of a place, but I really feel that I need to give you a little background story first, so please indulge me for a moment or two.
As a Brit living in the US, you have to understand that from time to time I’m going to suffer from a little homesickness and a hankering for some very British things. After more than a decade living in Peoria, this has got less and less. I still love my English chocolate and a real cup of hot tea (brew it for nine minutes – trust me), but for the most part I am a fully assimilated member of the melting pot that makes up this wonderful country. However, there are two things that I absolutely have to have – and the Fox Pub and Café has come good with both: #1. Saturday live football (and I mean soccer, but as this is a review about a British venue I’m calling it by the name it goes by around the rest of the globe!) and #2. A Full English cooked breakfast.
Football is an institution in the UK, Europe and pretty much the rest of the world, and if you ever watch a Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers soccer game and see the passion in both sets of supporters, you can see it’s firmly embedded here in the US too (their last meeting had an attendance of 65,000). To quote a former coach of an English Premier League football, the late great Bill Shankly said it perfectly:
"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very
disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more
important than that."
Since opening it’s doors in 2009, the Fox Pub and Café has been the home for all that is football. With three good size t.v.’s and a pull down projector screen (for the really important matches), games can be watched clearly and in comfort from any part of the bar or dining area. While they show football most days of the week (and yes, other sports too), this review is specifically focused on the Saturday morning live English Premier League games at 9a.m. and 11:30a.m. So kudos straight off to the Fox for being open for business this early in the day.
Now while there is a healthy interest in football in Peoria and a handful of Brits and other Europeans wanting to watch the games, you’re unlikely to have too much of a problem finding a seat in the Fox at 9a.m. on a Saturday morning. I’ve been coming to the Fox to watch the football pretty regularly for a couple of years now and it’s rare to see more than a dozen people in attendance. But for those football supporters not coming to this charming piece of England – it’s your loss because you are missing out on the second reason to go to the Fox Pub and Café on a Saturday morning – The Full English Cooked Breakfast!
Vegetarians probably want to stop reading from here on in, but for those of you who want that weekend, one off, treat then the Full English Cooked Breakfast served at the Fox on Saturday mornings while you watch the game is ‘to die for’ (okay, probably a bad analogy, right?) As with football itself, this too is an institution in the UK. Bridges where built, coal was mined, ships were welded, and wars were won only after men and women had eaten a ‘Full English’…. Okay, maybe a little bit of an exaggeration, but you get the passion!
So what exactly is in a Fox Pub and Café Full English Cooked Breakfast then, I hear you ask? Well just take a look at the photograph. The accommodating staff at the Fox are usually happy to customize to your taste, but essentially it consists of eggs, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans (yes, for breakfast!), and sausage. Now this isn’t any sausage, it’s not a hotdog, a weenie, a brat… it’s an English or Irish sausage – very, very important. A smaller variation of the Full English Breakfast is simply a sausage sandwich, but I digress. The final ingredient to this culinary masterpiece is small but necessary to complete the ensemble – HP Brown sauce. Not to be confused with A1 sauce, which will do, but is a poor substitute. Now if you choose to start on a Guinness at 9a.m. then that’s up to you and your liver, personally, I enjoy a good mug of coffee with my Full English. And don’t come to ‘Saturday Morning Football and a Full English at the Fox’ if you’re in a hurry, because the game is on for 90 minutes and then there’s a second live game on almost immediately afterwards. Also the breakfast takes a little while to prepare if you want it just right.
So set aside an occasional Saturday morning during the EPL football season (August 17th though April 2014), come down to Peoria’s own ‘Little England’, order their mouth watering Full English and sit back with some good company to watch the greatest football league in the world.