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THE CORNER BAR

A Bit of Jolly Olde England in Tustin at Chelsea's Pub

February 14, 1991|JANET EASTMAN

OK, so uncertainty over world events and the fear of financial ruin in a recession have made you cancel your holiday to the United Kingdom and you're looking for a cheap substitute.

A really cheap one.

Well, it's not exactly a pub on Fleet Street with fast-breaking gossip and fish pot pies, but there is a stiff-upper-lip bar nearby that can take the bitter out of your mood and pour it into your mug.

Granted, you'll have to stretch your imagination a bit if you want to be mentally transported to Jolly Olde England from Chelsea's Pub in Tustin.

Chelsea's, plunked amid bleak industrial buildings south of the dusty Santa Ana Freeway and east of the sooty Costa Mesa Freeway, is surrounded by a river of concrete rather than the Thames. But this pub can at least see you through some of the blustery days when there's not enough cold cash to burn to warm your spirits.

You'll be greeted at the entrance of the English cottage-esque building by a ferocious stone lion that should be guarding Windsor Castle instead of an establishment a farthing's throw from the Amtrak right-of-way.

Walk inside, and the chintz linens, cherry-stained mahogany and mural depicting guards at Buckingham Palace might have you convinced that the place is outfitted in True Brit decor.

Well, no. Not really.

They cheated in a few places. Like the Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable portraits that hang on the wall. And the caricatural drawing of George Bush that mingles with a few equally silly drawings of an elite band of bar regulars.

But so what? You've come to drink and act British.

And who cares if the TV is never turned to cricket matches and if most patrons don't order Pimm's and soda, lager shandy, half-and-half or anything else Brit-proof?

It's a pub, I tell you.

With piano music Friday and Saturday nights.

Just don't ask the pianist to play the theme from "Masterpiece Theatre."

Chelsea's Pub, 1481 Edinger Ave., Tustin. Open 7 a.m to 10 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday till midnight. (714) 259-0770.

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