British owners Thomas Dalby and Neil Ryan have a hit on their hands with Hoxton, a new bar and restaurant in eastern San José’s Barrio Escalante. Since opening in May, Hoxton has become a popular nighttime hangout for the young crowd, and is often jammed to the rafters later at night.
Although Hoxton bills itself as a pub and restaurant, it might be more appropriate to call it a bar and restaurant; the menu offers traditional British pub food, but no British beer is to be found among the large selection of drinks – only Guinness from the Emerald Isle.
Four British expats and an Anglicized Tico sallied forth for an authentic pub lunch, which to us meant the atmosphere as well as the food. Hoxton has tables outside the premises, which probably would have been more pleasant, but we chose to sit in the sparsely furnished interior. There was no sign of pub-like ambience except a few blown-up quotes of British humor and some Grenadier Guards transfers on the walls. A fun and funky addition, however, was the genuine toilet sitting in all its glory at the entrance to the washrooms, with a copy of “Der Struwwelpeter” sticking out of the bowl and a print of Winston Churchill sporting a Mohawk above it.
We certainly had no complaints about the very good food, which was affordably priced, freshly cooked and nicely presented. The small menu offers the highly recommended English-style fish and chips, served with delicious hand-cut fries, homemade tartar sauce and real malt vinegar. A popular item is the bangers and mash, homemade English sausages with mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, gravy and mixed veggies.
The big surprise at Hoxton was the sliced avocado deep-fried in a light tempura batter, served with a spicy mango sauce and house salad – certainly not standard pub fare, but a very unusual delicacy. The daily special, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, was also given a thumbs-up; the thinly sliced, rare roast beef was juicy and tender, and the Yorkshire pudding passable for a restaurant, though not as good as Mother’s or what comes out of our own kitchens, we agreed. The Greek salad was tasty, and the Catalan salad made with arugula leaves and Manchego cheese sounded tempting. A roast beef and melted cheddar cheese panino rounds off the small but interesting menu. Expect to pay ₡3,200 to ₡4,600 ($6.40 to $9.20) per dish, including 13 percent tax but not 10 percent service.
Hoxton opens for breakfast and offers a typical Tico start to the day with gallo pinto (rice-and-beans dish), two eggs, sour cream, tortillas and coffee for ₡2,300 ($4.60) or eggs Benedict with crispy bacon, grilled tomato, hash browns and coffee for ₡4,600 ($9.20).
Location: Barrio Escalante, 300 m north of Bagelmen’s
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Saturday