There’s nothing quite like a “full English” first thing in the morning, and since moving Stateside, hubby and I have been hard pushed to find anything that remotely resembles a traditional British breakfast from back home. Living in Georgia, we’ve never quite understood the Southern passion for fried chicken or biscuits and gravy as a morning meal, and we’ll happily concede that grits are an acquired taste. We can’t get used to US-style sausages and bacon, and merely suggesting that mushrooms and beans belong on the breakfast plate equally amuses and horrifies our American friends. We daren’t even mention black pudding, for fear of revealing its main ingredient and causing untold distress to the faint-hearted. So you can imagine how excited we were to recently discover an award-winning Atlanta pub where you can get a good old “fry up” all day long - no questions asked.
Ok, so before I go any further, technically it's a Celtic pub and the all-day feast is officially titled “Irish breakfast” - what our good friends Colin and Chris would call an “Ulster fry”. But basically, a big brekkie from anywhere in the British Isles is pretty much the same thing. So, without getting too distracted by the name or regional variations, let’s get our teeth into the juicy details.
Craving a taste of home, hungry hubby and I headed to the Olde Blind Dog in Milton early one Wednesday morning. We were greeted by director of operations Geoff Kokoszka, and as we settled into one of the cosy “snugs” (ornately decorated enclosed booths) Geoff filled us in on the history of the pub. It all started in 2009 when a Scottish collector of all things Celtic was seeking a spot to open a bar in Atlanta. He discovered that the suburb of Milton had the largest cluster of Scots-Irish in the state of Georgia. An artisan carpentry company, working out of a local barn, was commissioned to design and recreate the rustic Irish decor.
Snug at the Old Blind Dog
William Wallace, or is it Mel Gibson?
Today, the pub interior includes exquisite carvings, beautiful woodwork, stained glass and 200-year-old doors. It certainly looks and feels authentic. The owner is also a descendent of William Wallace, which explains the life-size, slightly spooky replica of Braveheart permanently encaged at the pub.
There’s even an interesting story behind the name of the Olde Blind Dog. The owner’s beloved bulldog, Peaches, was rescued from a shelter and had only one eye. Sadly, she passed away two months before the pub opened, but Peaches is fondly immortalized in her picture which adorns the brand logo and the sign above the door.
Photo credit: Olde Blind Dog pub
Geoff told us that his regulars consist of many expats as well as long-term locals, who all love the traditional Irish food, and of course the famous Irish stout. He was keen to point out that Guinness gets special treatment at the Olde Blind Dog; it is stored separately and kept at a constant temperature to ensure it pours warmer than less prolific beers, while staff are carefully trained how to pull a perfect pint of the precious black stuff. Naturally, hubby insisted on sampling a glass, purely to confirm all this is true.
And just then our breakfast arrived. Two large plates loaded with real back bacon rashers (all the way from Ireland), bangers made specially by a local butcher, proper Heinz baked beans, fried mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, three eggs and optional black or white pudding. All this was accompanied by a thick wedge of freshly baked Irish soda bread, warm and crumbly, with creamy Kerrygold butter of course. Decent soda bread in the US is almost as rare as a crock of gold or even a genuine shamrock (the three-leaf variety, not those four-leaf imposters that crop up every Paddy’s Day), and this was among the best I've ever tasted.
Breakfast for two
Irish soda bread and a cuppa
We cleared our plates and washed everything down with a lovely cup of Twinings English breakfast tea. That our young server instinctively knew our tea should be hot (not iced) with milk (not cream) was a refreshing change which made us feel like we were briefly back across the pond.
The final verdict: this hearty pub breakfast ticked all the right boxes and was the perfect way to start our day.
As we were leaving, Geoff reminded us about the Olde Blind Dog’s twin pub in Brookhaven, actually a bit closer to home for us. We can’t wait to visit that one too. Based on our experience at the Milton location, hubby and I are happy to testify that the Olde Blind Dog serves up the best big British (Irish) breakfast in Atlanta.