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NORTH COUNTY FINDS : Just the Spot for Bangers and Mash and a Pint of Ale


Tucked in a commercial strip in San Marcos is the Camelot Inn, a tiny bar and restaurant that is the closest thing North County has to an authentic British pub.

That means Guinness stout on tap, as well as other British, Irish and Scottish beer and ales such as Watney's, John Courage, Bass, Newcastle Brown Ale and pints of hard cider.

It means a menu that offers shepherd's pie (a crock of roast beef and gravy topped with mashed potatoes) and bangers (juicy English sausage served with either beans and chips or mashed potatoes, and a special mustard sauce).

There's steak and kidney pie, fish and chips, Yorkshire pudding, ploughman's sauce (a syrupy, spicy catsup combination) as well as salt-and-malt-vinegar potato chips.

The decor includes maps of ancient Scotland and Wales, colorful flags, dart boards and an Irish folk band on Friday nights. Holidays feature poetry readers and bagpipe performances.

Christopher and Margo Johnson, who bought the pub from a pair of Scotsmen last June, say transplanted British Islanders still make up about half of their clientele.

The regulars' spritely accents, the flow of the warm, dark ale and the smells emanating from the kitchen give Camelot an authentic feel. People walk in off the street just to say hello. On Saturdays whole families show up. On Friday nights, wide-eyed customers can be seen doing an Irish jig.

On Monday nights, the pub sponsors a dart-throwing league that brings out the competitive instincts and a score of relocated Brits, Irishmen, Scotsmen, Australians, and a few Americans.

The Camelot Inn is at 887 San Marcos Blvd. Take California 78 to the San Marcos Boulevard exit and head south a few blocks. The pub is on the left.

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