After Hours: London spot offers American-flavored food, athletic events
January 16, 2008
LONDON — The NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. The NCAA tournament and the Final Four. The Masters golf event. There are enough high-profile sporting events in the coming months to whet any fan’s appetite.
And if you want to view all the action from somewhere other than your living room or the confines of the Galaxy or Liberty clubs, there’s a unique option here in the capital.
Just around the corner from the city’s heart in Trafalgar Square — and in the building where former Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh once worked at a now-defunct hotel — sits The Sports Café.
The Sports Café is a touch of home. It pipes in the latest and greatest in live sporting action from familiar American broadcasters like ESPN, CBS and the Fox Network as well as the British standbys like the British Broadcasting Corp., Sky and Setanta. That means you can watch Southeastern Conference basketball action on one television while Manchester United battles a Premiership foe on another.
It may be a stretch for airmen stationed in sleepy Suffolk, but The Sports Café offers Big Wednesday deals that include 2 pound ($4) spirits with a single shot, 2 pound pints and 2-for-1 on hamburgers and hot dogs starting at 10 p.m.
At that point, you’d best be spending the night in Westminster or risk adding your name to the brown driving-under-the-influence signs at the base gate.
There are eight pool tables upstairs, which is also adorned with a full-size mock Indy racing car as well as enough memorabilia to make you wonder if Joe Montana or Don Mattingly is around the corner signing autographs.
Even the menu offers a bit of Americana with items like the Yankee Cheese Steak, the Cajun BLT, BBQ ribs and some cheesecake for dessert. As always, prices in pounds means a lunch for two may run you close to $50 when you figure in drinks, but that seems to be the standing price for dining in the shadow of Lord Nelson’s Column.
On weekend nights, the games keep rolling. But the Sports Café doubles as a dance club when an entire section of tables is cleared out and the parquet floor squeaks with the sound of drunken dancers rather than hustling waitresses.
If you’re traveling across the United Kingdom and want to catch the big game on the road, there are eight locations nationwide in nearly all of Britain’s biggest cities. Check the Web site for location information.
The Sports Café
Address: 80 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4TE (Charing Cross tube stop)
Phone: 020 78398300
Clientele: A mix of expatriates and Brits savvy enough to fancy the NFL
Service: Can be a bit slow when busy, but not worth alerting the manager.