The Black Labrador, one of Houston’s Authentic English Pubs
Driving down Montrose between Alabama and Richmond Avenue alongside The University of St. Thomas, you will find an ivy covered building with a bright red door that could be seen from a mile away. Were it not for this door, you may never have seen the forest through the trees here. Further out on the curb is an old style red phone booth to boot, as seen in many ‘artsy’ Instagram accounts around the city. This sexy red door belongs to a quaint English pub called the Black Labrador. We decided to check out it out on a whim one Sunday afternoon after noticing the bright door while driving back home.
Opening in 1986, The Black Lab was formerly used by a church for its offices. It’s doors remain unlocked 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and they even serve brunch on Sundays at 11 a.m. It has 100 seats inside, comfy ones like you’d see in your Grandma’s house. 50 additional seats line the outside and 20 are available around the bar for those of us that need quick access to the wide selection of beers and liquor on tap. There is nothing like drinking the night away in a building that was originally holy. God did turn water into wine so it would be rude to not order a round of drinks and break bread.
Just beyond the bar is a beautiful fireplace that is perfect for any homebody and quite popular in the wintertime. You get the best of worlds here, feeling like you’re at home, but technically you’re being “social” so your friends can’t get on to you too much.
We had no trouble finding parking on one of the back streets behind the building although it was midday on a Sunday. The best place to park would be in front of the building in the small parking lot or in the parking garage right next to the back of the building. As we approached the front door we noticed a life-size chess set right next to all of the outside seating. After crushing a few ten years in Chess we entered the main door.
Having missed the early lunch crowd, we were immediately seated. Greeted by a sweet young woman just as quick as we were seated, we began nodding at each other in silent approval. Settling on anyone’s favorite Sunday cocktail, the classic Bloody Mary, we mixed things up with a coffee liquor drink called “The Black Labrador.” After all, you can’t try a place for the first time and not check out their signatures.
These drinks can be found on a separate menu at the table which has a few regular liquor drinks and almost 10 coffee drinks to choose from. “The Black Labrador”, comprised of Jameson, Kahlua and coffee, can sneak up on you quick. The Bloody Mary though, ranked up there at the top as it burst with flavor and strength, while “The Black Labrador” came on a little strong. Not strong enough to keep us from drinking the entire glass though, let’s get real. If you enjoy strong dark coffee and a good whiskey then you will love this combination.
We had already eaten an hour before we got to the Black Labrador which was a disappointment because we had heard great things about the food. The menu consists of over 15 authentic English dishes like Shepherd’s Pie and Fish and Chips, as well as a large selection of hamburgers and sandwiches, seafood, pork chops, chicken and prime rib. The menu also had a great selection of desserts like Raspberry Truffle, Scottish Apple Pie and Bread Pudding. The next time we go to The Black Labrador, we plan to come hungry.
While finishing up our drinks, we noticed a flyer for a Jazz club called Cezanne that is located upstairs. On the outside of the building, its own entrance sits just right beside the red door, only it’s a blue door. These guys had the color blocking on point! Pulling the manager over to tell us more, she politely went on to explain that the Cezanne is open on Friday and Saturday evenings from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. Tickets must be purchased at the door on a first come first serve basis, so no reservations are taken. Be on the lookout for a write-up about the Cezanne in the future if you like Jazz music.
Overall, our experience at The Black Labrador was a good one. You get this feeling that you aren’t in Texas, let alone America when you are inside. It’s a great place to sit and catch up with old friends or to accommodate someone who “hates crowds”. We even learned that many of the people would come over for a few drinks after getting out of class there at St. Thomas. Makes sense.
On a lasting stroll around the area, we found that the b-cycle public bike system has a station close by which could make it a destination bike-hop to bars around the city that we’re planning this spring.