Bartender Chat: Thelia of The Stag's Head

We stopped into The Stag's Head on a Monday afternoon craving an ice-cold Strongbow and a low-key scene, and we got just that. The spacious pub was practically empty except for an older gentleman with a heavy northern English accent sipping a beer. We took a quick spin around the large wrap-around bar and saw two very different personalities: one that was bright, sunny and open, and one that was dark, moody but cozy.

Is The Stag's Head an English pub? A restaurant? A sports bar? Yes, yes and yes. It's a no-frills joint, and you get what you pay for; a good pint of beer at a decent price and something tasty to quiet your rumbling tummy.

On this particular afternoon, Thelia, who's been at The Stag's Head for a year, was behind the bar, along with Andy, an English import with two months under his belt.

How would you describe your bar?

Thelia: It's a traditional English pub and restaurant. The food is very good, and the atmosphere is homey. We serve traditional English food like fish and chips and regular bar stuff like wings and fried pickles. We have a glass room that can be closed off and the Oak Room. It's a great place for meetings or events.

Andy: It's sort of like home for me; it's much more a British pub than anywhere else I've seen in the city so far. Last Saturday we had a rugby team come in that was noisy and boisterous, as rugby teams tend to be. They took up the whole front bar area, but in the back, it was business as usual. The pub is big enough that it can almost be two bars if you need it to be.

How would you describe the crowd?

Thelia: We have regulars that come in every single day. You can count on 'em. They're here when we open and sometimes even before we open. We also get a lot of people who work in the neighborhood who come in for lunch several times a week.

Andy: I've been in the pub trade for 12 years and back home in the U.K., we had regulars that you could set your watch by. They'd be in just as soon as they stepped off the train.

Anything on the menu you'd recommend?

Andy: The fish and chips are some of the best I've had. The beer batter is fantastic. I'm no chef, but I find it's hard to get that perfect balance of crunch on the outside without drying the fish out on the inside.

The Stag's Head, located at 2128 Portsmouth across from Cactus Music, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. There are lunch specials everyday like chicken curry and Guinness steak pie and traditional dishes like bangers & mash that are sure to warm you up when if it gets cool out.

Visit Stag's Head Pub online for more specials and info and stop in to check out their ever-changing selection of imported and local (Karbach, St. Arnold, No Label) brews.

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