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A filling Island favourite at The Churchill Arms

#TryThisAndrew
by Andrew Sprague

To say it’s been a corker of a summer would be a massive understatement. From the beginning of July until the middle of August we had rain three times during daylight hours. Twice it came down in sheets for an hour or two, and only once did it rain steadily all day. The rest was beautiful sunshine. On that solitary rainy Tuesday, I wandered down to The Churchill Arms on Queen Street to have one of the best stick-to-your-ribs, warm-your-guts rainy day foods out there; bangers and mash.

The combination of mashed potatoes, gravy and sausage has been a stand-by in English cuisine for hundreds of years. It’s easy to cook, the ingredients are abundant, and it’s relatively cheap to make. It’s hearty, nutritious (if a little on the salty/fatty side), and it simply tastes great. A restaurant sized helping will fill most anyone, and very few will turn their nose up at a plateful. Perhaps that’s why bangers and mash received an impressive number of votes for the Island’s favourite restaurant meal. Even more impressive; it was the only meal that received nominations from three different restaurants. The Churchill Arms, The Olde Dublin Pub and The Old Triangle all had their bangers and mash mentioned as favourites. I chose the Churchill for no other reason than it was the place closest by at the time and it was raining.

There are three things you can count on at the Churchill and the first is good food. It is best known for its British style curries. They too received a substantial number of votes for the Island’s favourite. But all the food is good, especially the bangers and mash. You can also count on friendly service. The servers treat you like family and they leave you feeling welcome and engaged. The third thing you can count on is Rex. Now, Rex may not like that he’s getting a mention here, but that’s too bad for Rex. He’s a standby at the Churchill. You may have seen him; trench-coat, vest, goatee, tweed cap. He’s usually at the corner of the bar deep into a book or an often-spirited debate. I’ve known Rex for years and consider him a good friend. When he’s at the Churchill I enjoy it more, for the conversation, for the catching-up, and for the way his manner suits the very theme of the pub. That rainy August Tuesday was no different.

The bangers and mash were delicious, as usual. It’s a heaping plate of food with at least three potatoes worth of mash, four large sausages and enough rich, thick gravy to make it nearly impossible not to lose some off the side of your dish. It warms you up like no other meal, and by the time I was done the chill of the rain had all but disappeared.

The Churchill is also known for its selection of beer on tap. They have a few locals, some domestic and a decent variety of import draught. That Tuesday they also had Pump House Crafty Radler on tap. It might be the fastest selling non-domestic beer of the summer of 2017. A friend was looking for cans the first week of August and only the O’Leary liquor store had them in stock. It’s a fantastic dry radler that, as it happens, makes an excellent, fruity and refreshing compliment to a hefty meal like bangers and mash. Between the meal itself, the tasty beverage and Rex, it was a nearly perfect was to spend a rainy afternoon in downtown Charlottetown.

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