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May. 20, 2022 | Friday
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Upper Canada Food Guide: Angel Inn is about good times, good food
Angel Inn executive chef Tim MacDonald holds up some pub-style fish and chips, a recipe he says hasn't changed in 36 years. (Richard Harley)

Owner Kelly Turner says they put a fun spin on traditional English pub: ‘Probably the best in the world’

 

For the Olde Angel Inn, it's all about consistency, comfort and people.

Owner Kelly Turner says the real goal of the pub is to provide a place where people can come to meet friends for a cold pint and a good quality meal for a reasonable price.

"It's all about people coming together for a good time," Turner says in an interview at the restaurant.

Manager Greg Farr says, "It's like Cheers, 'Everybody knows your name.' " 

Just the other day, Farr says, he was telling a couple, " 'If you come back when we open up ... and you come in for a pint and sit over by the bar, within 15 minutes you'll have met four or five different people who'd be carrying on conversations, whether they're locals or from some other place. It just has that aura about it."

"And you're gonna leave with a full belly and warm comfort," Turner adds.

The British-style pub and inn was established in 1789 and has gone through various names and owners, remaining a staple in town for tourists, who often come back and comment that the place hasn't changed much from what they knew.

Turner took over the business in 2018 with her husband Keith and the business still specializes in English pubfare.

"We have a lot of people from the U.K. come in and they feel like they're at home when they come in here and eat the food and sit in the pub," Farr says.

The inn portion is still running, too, and Turner notes they have some "really good" specials on for any locals who want to do a stay-cation in town. They're fully licenced to serve the rooms alcohol, she adds.

She's also focused on customer service, noting during the pandemic the restaurant is offering free delivery to businesses in Old Town.

For executive chef Tim MacDonald, who has been with the restaurant on and off for 36 years, consistency is essential. He said some of the recipes for popular menu items haven't changed since he's been there.

"That's my main thing. If you had steak and kidney 36 years ago, we have the same steak and kidney pie. Tastes the same as it did back then," MacDonald says.

He and sous chef Jennifer Madden are tasked with coming up with the daily lunch and dinner specials, which he said she's mostly responsible for. Some of their popular items are curries, stir-fries, creative soup and sandwhich combos, and roast dinners.

His favourite thing on the menu after 36 years? The reuben sandwich, he says, without skipping a beat.

The restaurant has had to get creative during the pandemic, like so many others, and has switched things up to offer heat and serve meals and cocktails to-go.

"We kind of have a thing: we don't say no," Turner says. "If we can do it, we will do it."

Since Turner took over, the pub has increased its social media presence, with regular postings of daily specials on Facebook and even some fun videos of Angel Inn ghost stories — the inn has long been said to be "haunted" by the ghost of Captain Swayze. Over the years, staff members have said they can feel his presence lingering in the basement.

Their slogan is a bit tongue-in-cheek: "Probably the greatest pub in the world."

Turner laughs that the motto came out of a conversation around the table, where they decided they couldn't just flat out claim to be the best, but there's nothing wrong with saying "probably."

"We like to have fun. It's old, traditional, but we want to put a fun spin on it. Our staff are young, witty, they engage with customers and we just want to have fun," she says.

"We want everybody to come here have a good time, not be miserable. We spend more time with each other than we do our own families. So it's nice to have the camaraderie and the banter."

She says she's thankful for the ongoing support from residents as the pandemic continues and is looking forward to a return to in-person dining Jan. 31.

Meantime, the restaurant is open for takeout daily. Why not give them a call for that reuben?

Find more out about the Angel Inn at its website, oldeangelinn.com.

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