Cottage pie is ground beef with vegetables in a light tomato sauce topped with a crust of mashed potatoes. (Shepherd's pie is the exact same dish with ground lamb instead of beef.) There's no shepherd's pie on the menu at the homey Richmond Arms Pub on Richmond near Chimney Rock, but there is an excellent rendition of cottage pie.

Richmond Arms
5920 Richmond Ave
713-784-7722
richmondarmsonline.com

This unique version of the dish comes with a crater in the middle that's filled with gravy, which is exactly the way my mum used to serve our mashed potatoes. For my two sides, I got peas and onion rings. I dipped the onion rings in the gravy and dumped the peas into the pie. With a half pint of Old Speckled Hen, it was the perfect preparation for the 1:30 p.m. Premier League soccer match.

The game between Arsenal and Aston Villa was closer than it should have been; Arsenal was clearly outplaying the home team at Villa Park. There was no question about the loyalties of the crowd that gathered at the pub—every Arsenal shot on goal was cheered lustily, and the Aston Villa squad were booed. Two of the loudest fans were wearing bright yellow Arsenal away kits. Arsenal prevailed, beating Aston Villa 2 to 1. And that puts Arsenal back into first place, I was told.

It was a lot of entertainment for the price of a cottage pie.

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