Bringing a true taste of the UK to Old City, the Victoria Freehouse opened its doors earlier this month in the former Swanky Bubbles on Front Street. The menu features an array of familiar English fare, including bangers and mash, fish and chips, and several proper puddings. Owner Ed Strojan’s current top pick is the Tikka pizza, made with fresh naan, masala sauce, curried onions, cheddar and coriander oil.
Strojan is no newbie when it comes to English cuisine. He's also the owner of Haddonfield’s British Chip Shop and has taken several trips to the UK — plus he gets to look to his UK-born stepfather for inspiration.
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At the bar, 10 taps and two hand pumps serve up strictly English-style ales. Popular pours include Fuller’s Organic Honeydew and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. Offerings from a few local breweries that Strojan believes have successfully replicated the English style are also available.
“Brooklyn Brewery is definitely one of them, and Yards is absolutely one that does the British style ale really, really well,” says Strojan. “We are in America, so I think we should at least represent our local brewers.”
A full cocktail menu is available with classics like a Pimm's Cup, along with scotches from Scotland. “Pubs are mainly about the beer, but I thought it’d be great to have something representative of all the British isles,” says Strojan, who’s also stocked the bar with a few Irish whiskeys.
The queen's bust
Sitting prominently against the back wall, a bust of Queen Victoria brings an authentic piece of the UK to this Philly pub. Strojan picked it up off of eBay after discovering it was one of the original busts commissioned for the queen’s jubilee in the late 1800s.