Last Friday my friend Lyle and I were driving around town, the French cheeses we had recently scored from work stinking up the car, wondering what the hell we were supposed to be doing with ourselves and generally unclear about where life was taking us. We were on our way to Rainbow Grocery when we took a wrong turn onto 15th Street from Potrero– a dead end, if you are familiar with that particular part of town. We were looking for fresh fruit and organic liver drops, but what we found instead were McVitie’s Hobnobs and clotted cream at The British Grocery. I decided it was God’s Will that we should pay a visit, bad dead end metaphors be damned. It was one of the pleasanter wrong turns of my recent memory.
The British Grocery has served ex-pat Brits and Anglophiles alike in procuring some of their favourite (yes, I added a “u”) foods from Great Britian since 1973. Marmalade, lemon squash, black pudding– things I have seen the English ingest from spending entirely too much time watching Eastenders and other BBC programmes are available for the (paying for and) taking. Tea services, marmite, British candies, fruity HP sauce, Devon cream, crumpets, Curly Wurly bars, the occasional reminder of royal weddings gone awry. Some of you may already be familiar with the store. If so, you might understand my delight in finding it– they have spotted dick, for God’s sake. How can you not love a store that sells such things?
The business may have existed since just before Glenda Jackson won her second Oscar, but the actual store has only been open to the public since “around 2000”, says owner Patrick Alexander. The bulk of their business is done through internet orders. Though many items appear to be available through their website, I would recommend visiting the store itself, because there are some things that just have to be seen. I’m still kicking myself for not purchasing a teapot which, to me, looked either to be Danny Bonaduce in a perambulator or, more likely, a baby with a severe case of rosacea. Whichever the artist’s intention, the teapot is a steal at $14.99.
When paying a visit, make sure to ring the clearly labeled, correct doorbell for assistance. For more infromation, visit their website: Britshoppe.com or call them at (415) 552-4399.