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Wine & Spirits

The 15 best pubs around

October 11, 2006|Susan LaTempa

HERE are 15 of the best pubs in Los Angeles County, selected for variety and freshness of drinks, quality of food, friendliness and warmth of service, and appeal of unique characteristics. Many offer live music and other kinds of entertainment such as karaoke and trivia quizzes; call or check websites for more information. The price of a pint of Guinness is noted for each; some offer domestic beers at lower prices.

Don't see your local? Check out a longer selected list of British and Irish pubs (and rate your favorites) at calendarlive.com/pubs.

Susan LaTempa

**

Forever young

The Cat & Fiddle Restaurant & English Pub. Maybe because the next generation has segued into management, this landmark spot is more than a quarter-century old and yet forever young. Founded in 1982 by the late British rocker Kim Gardner and his wife, Paula, a fashion retailer, it's been a music- and movie-industry hangout since the beginning. Today the expansive space, which flows from a courtyard into the wing of a historic 1920s Mission Revival building, is livelier than ever, thanks to the after-work crowd of creative types from studios nearby. Outside, there's a friendly vibe and a real California feeling; inside, there's a cozy fireside seat and a dart room. The food's excellent. Bangers -- mild English-style pork sausages -- are made on the premises and featured in several dishes. Try the iconic Scotch egg -- a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and deep fried. It's hilarious, but delicious with beer. The pies and pasties are crisp and well made; excellent desserts such as a bright sherry trifle with fresh sweet cream are house made. $5 pints. \o76530 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 468-3800; www.thecatandfiddle.com.

*

Where beer geeks meet science freaks

Lucky Baldwins British Pub & Cafe (Old Town Pasadena); Lucky Baldwins Delirium Cafe (Sierra Madre). These sister pubs, with their 63 taps in Pasadena and 46 in Sierra Madre, are well-known destinations on the beer-lover's map. Though British and Irish brews are thoroughly represented and all kinds of beers are celebrated, the emphasis is on Belgian beers. Aficionados come from far away for special events such as the annual Belgian beer festival in February, the barleywine festival in May and Oktoberfest, when German beers are front and center. Co-owners David Farnsworth (originally from the north of England) and Peggy Simonian keep in touch with regulars through e-mails and fliers. The kitchens do a fine job with a well-thought-out menu of British fare such as some very good pasties, a tasty English-style chicken curry and a decent ploughman's plate of bread, cheeses and pickles. The 10-year-old, brick-walled Pasadena pub is a hangout for Cal Tech students and faculty as well as Jet Propulsion Laboratory employees -- there's a lot of intense talk-talk-talk over pints on the patio. The year-old Sierra Madre spot fits right into the historic little downtown near the Mt. Wilson trailhead with its pressed tin ceiling, polished wooden floors and bar with attractive stools. It boasts a tiny but richly rewarding package shop in the back with hard-to-get beers and a few British foodstuffs. $4 pints. 17 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena, (626) 795-0652; www.luckybaldwins.com; 21 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre, (626) 355-1140; www.luckybaldwins.com/deliriumcafe.html.

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It looks the part

Casey's Irish Bar & Grille. Built in 1970 by the people behind Tam O' Shanter Inn on Los Feliz Boulevard and Lawry's the Prime Rib on La Cienega Boulevard, this below-street-level downtown pub with its dark wood paneling, pressed tin ceiling, polished wood floors, brass rails and mahogany bar has been used as a location for Hollywood productions, including "Good Night, and Good Luck" and "The X-Files." It caters to a lunchtime and after-work Financial District crowd, and the food's a big cut above most pubs. The fish and chips is actually delicate; the shepherd's pie has lamb and parsnips as well as beef and carrots. Six British beers on tap, also Belgian ales and microbrews. $5 pints. 613 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, (213) 629-2353; www.bigcaseys.com.

*

A clean, well-lit pub?

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