SOUTHPORT, England — Everywhere is just so cultured these days.
Here I came to the British Open—or The Open, as the R&A would prefer me to call it—thinking I would get a bunch of food I'm not used to eating and end up disliking most of it. Silly American, right?
Royal Birkdale actually has an expansive array of culinary options. There's an all-Canadian stand selling mini donuts and even a Krispy Kreme shop. Rough eating for a picky eater this week? I think not.
But I wanted to sample everything. A little of Britain's finest here, a little of American indulgence there. So for the first three days of the Open I stopped at as many different stands as I could—or as many as my stomach allowed—and, well, ate and ate and ... ate. To clarify, this isn't a ranking of British food at the British Open, but a ranking of all the different types of food you can eat at the British Open. There are so many choices, it's more like a state fair than a golf event. And the options go well beyond what I have on this list. I mean, I had to stop somewhere, and the competition starts Thursday, so this seemed like a good end point. The ranking...
9. Krispy Kreme Donuts, price varies
New York Cheesecake ... Chocolate Dreamcake … Original Glazed. This doesn't seem like England at all! You also get a deal if you buy a dozen. Donuts are always good, but they get a low rating out of principle. Krispy Kreme at a British Open? What's next? Collar-less golf shirts?
8. Danish Wheel, £2.5
This was the perfect Part I to my breakfast on Day 1. It was gooey, a little soft and crumbly and had a generous amount of icing. The raisins were a nice touch.
7. Nougat Twist, £2.5
Part II of Monday breakfast. I honestly had no clue what a nougat twist was, so I had to try it. The bun looked like a salted caramel roll but tasted more like a croissant rolled up—and twisted, of course—with icing and nuts and all that other breakfast pastry goodness. It had me giggling like the Pillsbury Doughboy.
6. Pasty, £5.50
Pleasant surprise. It reminded me of a mix between a hot pocket and a pot pie. I picked the bacon and cheddar variety. Well done.
5. Media Center Sandwich, free!
OK, so I'm selling this short by not calling it by its real name. Here goes: Handcrafted Wiltshire Cured Ham & West Country Cheddar Bloomer. Was surprisingly delicious. The relish was a tasty touch and the cheddar had a nice bite. A better sandwich than Augusta's pimento cheese? Yes, sir! (Just don't tell ANGC. I want to be invited back.)
4. The Open Burger, £8
I'm a burger lover, so I had to try the official burger of the Open. It was worth it, too. They call it an "English beef burger," which doesn't mean much to me but I can tell you it has a little bit of a different taste than American meat. Simplicity wins here. Good beef, cheese, relish, mustard, ketchup and onion.
3. Big Easy, £5
The name obviously caught my eye here. Listed under "Jockets" were a handful of player-inspired monikers, including the Full Monty, Victor Dupoisson, Smokey Miguel, and Merry Mex. I decided to roll the dice, but before I could successfully Google "What is a jocket England food" it was my turn to order, and I wanted to be confident. So I fired away and asked for the Big Easy. The guy then asked if I wanted butter. Of course not! I don't even know what I ordered. Turns out the Big Easy is a baked potato smothered in melted cheese. I loved it. The cheese was just melty enough and the potato soft and flakey. A baked potato at a golf course seems crazy, but who am I to judge? A birdie for the Big Easy!
2. Classic Bratwurst, £6.20
I'm sorry, but growing up in the Midwest I just couldn't resist. And you know what? It was excellent. The bun was about as big as a loaf of bread and super fluffy, and the brat was delish as well. The buttery onions on top brought it all together.
1. Fish and Chips, £10
Flaky, greasy, mouth-watering—a clear No. 1. I forgot to ask for a lemon, but this still hit the spot. They load the plate with fries … err, chips … and basically need a fork lift to drop the massive slab of haddock on top. An all-around winner.