Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My Miami Vice: London style curry in Little Haiti

Churchill's via Miami New Times

It's at 55th street and N.E. 2nd Avenue in Little Haiti, once known as Lemon City, only a block from where my mother got polio, four blocks from the apartment I spent my first year of life. Churchill's Pub is run by Dave Daniels, a Brit expatriate and everything about it is British-- including its interior which looks like something left over from the London bombings of World War II. I don't know what it was before Daniels bought the place but from the peeling murals of the Everglades over the bar, I kinda think it's always been a bar. Perhaps my mom and dad long passed shared a few drinks there. Daniels describes the place on the outside wall as "sort of an English pub." It's got the Union Jack and a silhouette of Churchill painted on the walls just to confuse you. And let's not forget the two derelict double-decker busses sitting in the unpaved, rock strewn parking lot. The menu includes the expected pub fare of shepherd's pie and bangers and mash, but what brings me and my buds back week after week (besides Alex and Brooklyn the barmaids) is Wednesday Curry Night. Done "London style" by the pub's Brit "partner in crime and manager" Mike, it is the hottest and best curry under the sun. I consider the regulars in my group members of the "Curry Eaters Club." Only the worthy may sit down and join us in the pain and pleasure at the plastic lawn tables on the dark side of the bar. At our "club," it's okay to break out in a sweat and even to stomp your foot and wave the heat away from your open mouth, but it is considered grounds for disbarment if you dash for the bathroom or grab up the plastic "safety cups" of water delivered by Alex, the friendliest, most lovely tatooed and pierced British barmaid you've ever seen.

On any given Wednesday night you can find the face of Miami in this bar: Haitian, Cuban, some variety of South American, WASP, and Jew. And the young and old too. If you're not there to make your eyes water and your nose run from the curry, you're there to drink, hang out with your buds at the bar, watch soccer on the TVs and, later, listen to live rock music around 10 pm. In fact, Churchill's is one of the few places left in Dade County where you can hear live rock and has become legendary for championing new bands. Over the years I've seen a lot of bands pass through the place. Many were young kid slammers and screamers who seemed to be working out their anger managment issues on the pub's minimalist stage. Still, you never knew what kind of band would play that night. I remember when a young Alabama girl carrying an acoustic guitar almost as big as she was, got up and sang songs she had written that were eerily reminiscent of folkie stuff from the fifties. If it hadn't been for the crowd sitting around the bar cheering on some obscure soccer team's goal on TV, I would have sworn I had been transported back to Greenwich Village at the height of the folk music era half-a-century ago (not that I was actually there, I only read about it). Of course, members of the Curry Eaters Club, could care less who's playing as long as the music and the entourage that follow the bands don't interfere with our mission and very little, even a drunken rowdy crashing into our table will cause us to pause from the club's agenda. Click the title of this post to reach Churchill's website to see their calendar of events and more. Oh, yeah, you're more than welcome to join us at the table, but crybabies need not apply. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Alex's Leg photo by Dennie and DK Cody.

6 comments:

stefokay said...

oooo! i love your blogs,, keep the good nuggets of ideas flowing!

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Thanks for the kind words. Maybe I won't become the Rodney Dangerfield of blogs afterall.

Anonymous said...

Part of it used to be a Haitian Driving School...
http://southflorida.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2004/08/30/story4.html

Verticus S. Erectus said...

A "Haitian Driving School"? Now that I didn't know. That must be where they put the stage and plastic outdoor tables. Thanks for the info.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is great! I hope you stick with it. See you at Churchill's, pally.

Verticus S. Erectus said...

Thanks for the approbation. When I figure out how to add praise quotes to the top of this blog, your's will be the first one. (I'll slip you a five spot later at Churchill's for the quote).