During a recent business trip, I found myself in London, Canada. I was only in town for one night and had no idea where to eat. I started asking locals where a good place might be. A theme emerged quickly - The Coates of Arms. The lady at the liquor store, the limo driver at the Hilton, even another restaurant owner where I stopped for lunch, had the same opinion. Get you to the Coates of Arms. I arrived that night around 7 or 8. It's a quaint and cozy restaurant and pub with traditional English pub decor, stately and clean. No sooner had I entered the place than the friendly (and extremely attractive) wait staff greeted me and escorted me to a table on the patio where I could enjoy the fine June weather. I asked about local beers and to my surprise the waitress was a virtual mental rolodex of beer knowledge. She detailed the wide selection of brew and stunning assortment of rare scotches available. I settled on a drink and ordered the Cajun crusted sole with grilled vegetables and wild rice. The meal arrived quickly and it was OUTSTANDING - probably the best Cajun dish I've ever eaten. Portion size was excellent but it was so good that I was tempted to stick around for a couple of post-meal beers and maybe sample a couple of the appetizers - and why not? Stanley cup hockey was on the big screen and a small crowd of familiar (to each other) locals were beginning to form by the bar in anticipation of the game. To my surprise, the chef, a slender young man who looked like a 13 year old version of Henry Rollins, came out to ask me how I enjoyed my meal. I immediately recognized a thick maritime accent of a much older man - many a swig of screech had galvanized his voice into a raspy gravel. I was stunned such a strange character could have concocted the delicious meal I had just eaten. The 'regulars' were extremely friendly, engaging me in conversation about my visit to London and encouraging me to try some of the pubs signature drinks. "The Windy City" suggested one such 'regular' sitting at the bar. He said it with such mysterious foreboding, I was too tempted not to find out. I ordered the drink at the bar to which the handsome barkeep only nodded knowingly. Of course it was delicious and in no time I was immersed in friendly banter and revelry with this crowd of Coatesians. After a couple hours had passed and more drinks, I began to get hungry again and ordered the "Warhammer nachos" in cahoots with one of the other bar patrons who had befriended me. Will it be enough for both of us I asked? Laughter ensured. What arrived were nachos of such gargantuan proportions, I could easily imagine a small platoon of navy seals leaving leftovers. I heartily endorse visiting the Coates of Arms pub if you are ever in London, Canada. Prompt, friendly service, amazing food prepared in good portion sizes at a low cost, and knowledgeable bar staff familiar with all manner of drink highlight this pub tucked away off the beaten path in London.
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