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Yesterday, Y&H awarded a gold medal to the Olympics-themed patio menu at Johnny’s Half Shell on Capitol Hill. The reason? Pricing. Each of the five British pub dishes printed in Old English on the special menu–cucumber sandwich, Welsh rarebit, fish and chips, ham and pork salad, and scotch egg–costs just $2.50.
So, I cleaned out the pockets of my many tweed shooting jackets, and I took a few found pounds to Johnny’s to see what gold tastes like.
Without any televisions on which to watch Olympics coverage at the bar, I was left to ponder a sophisticated grading system for the dishes, minus the cucumber sandwich, which seems like a ridiculous way to spend even $2.50. In the end, I decided to attach the name of a famous (or infamous) Olympian or Olympic event to each dish. Here are the results:
Scotch Egg = 1992 U.S. Two-Man Bobsledding Team
How could a hard-boiled egg wrapped in ham and then fried be anything but victory? Comparatively, how did the two-man U.S. bobsleigh team from 1992, which was anchored by cyborg former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, not manage to do any better than seventh? In both cases, my expectations were dashed on delivery.
Fish and Chips = British Olympian Steve Redgrave
Arguably the only durable contribution Britain has made to the global culinary landscape is fish and chips. Aside from Steve Redgrave, who won gold medals in rowing (the perfect English sport) in every Olympics from 1984 to 2000 and carried the torch at this year’s games, what British stars of the podium have stood the test of time? Johnny’s excellent interpretation of the iconic British dish included two big chunks of beer-battered, crispy whitefish served with coarse salt and malt vinegar.
Ham and Roasted Pork Salad Plate = Olympic Handball
This was a tough one. The only parallel I could think of was watching the most boring possible Olympic sport, say handball, and being slightly entertained. The salad, served on iceberg lettuce with tomatoes, wasn’t anything to microblog about, but it was enjoyable.
Welsh Rarebit = North Korean Weightlifter Om Yon Chul
If you’ve never seen Welsh rarebit, you’ve missed something that resembles toast covered in broiled horse vomit. It’s an unpleasant thing to behold, not unlike weightlifter Chul, who at 5 feet and 123 pounds looks like he has been breaking rocks in a North Korean labor camp since he was old enough to walk. Still, the whole book-by-the-cover adage rings true in both cases. Johnny’s rarebit had sturdy rye toast with melted English cheddar and stout gravy over top, and I loved every bite. Meanwhile, Chul won a gold medal yesterday by hoisting 370 pounds—nearly three times his body weight—in the clean and jerk.
Johnny’s did a fine job interpreting both the English classics and that dark humor for which the Brits are so well known. After a meal that was almost completely fried, I noticed that the newspaper clipping under my fish and chips was a Washington Examiner story from July 27 that announced the opening of a new community health center in the District. The piece was too perfectly clipped to be there accidentally.
The Olympic-themed menu is available 4:30 p.m. to close, every day through Aug. 12.
Johnny’s Half Shell, 400 N. Capital St. NW; (202) 737-0400; johnnyshalfshell.net
Photo via Johnny’s Half Shell