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Restaurant offers a Little Taste of Britain in Layton

By Valerie Phillips - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 10, 2023
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Owner Mandy Island and son Daniel Island sit in one of their "beach shack" booths at Little Taste of Britain in Layton.
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Fish and chips at Little Taste of Britain in Layton.
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Shelves at Little Taste of Britain are stocked with imported British products.

Little Taste of Britain started out with an English transplant homesick for her homeland’s food.

Mandy Island’s initial shop has grown to a Layton restaurant that offers typical British cuisine, from fish and chips to PG Tips Tea.

Dining booths resemble beach shacks labeled with names of English beaches, such as Blackmoor and Great Yarmouth.

There are shelves of British products, such as Cadbury chocolate, Bisto gravy mix, McVities biscuits, and Marmite and Vegemite spreads.

British flags are everywhere, and there’s a space devoted to royalty memorabilia. There’s a high number of Princess Diana photos, posters and books. Island said she feels a special bond to Diana since she grew up in the county of Northamptonshire, as Diana did.

Island’s husband, Nick, is from Montana and was stationed in England for 26 years. That’s where they met, married and had children. After he retired, they moved to Utah where he got a job in Hill Air Force Base’s engraving shop.

“I’d been here three years, and I was missing home and my sort of food — especially the chocolate,” Island said.

In 2007, she opened a small shop in Sunset, stocked with British products.

“The name came from a British comedy I liked, called ‘Little Britain,'” she said. “It’s appropriate, because we’re not a big business, but you get a ‘little taste of Britain.’ I opened it because I love people and wanted to do something where I was happy about the people coming in.”

In August 2008, she expanded the shop to a strip mall on Layton’s Main Street. That’s when she added the restaurant part of the business.

“People kept asking for authentic fish and chips, but I didn’t know anything about restaurants; I have an office background,” Island said. “So I went back to England to our local fish and chips shop, and they taught me everything I know.”

The flaky cod is battered, deep-fried and served with the traditional malt vinegar.

The “chips” are like American-style french fries. Some customers come in expecting little battered rectangular potato pieces. But Island says those battered “chips” aren’t authentic; they were popularized by the now-defunct Piccadilly Fish & Chips chain that made a splash across America in the 1960s and ’70s. In England, authentic “chips” are like french fries, she said. (And if you’re looking for American-style potato chips, those are “crisps” in England.)

“Our chips are authentic, and they’re real potatoes,” Island said.

They’re blanched before frying, so they’re crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

In 2018, the business moved to its present location at 768 W. 1425 North in Layton.

“We’ve got more space, and more parking,” Island said. “And being next to the (AMC) movie theaters, people see us and know we’re here.”

Other menu items include sausage rolls, clam chowder and mushy peas. These are a starchy, dried type of pea called marrowfat. They’re cooked until they’re mushy and often served with fish and chips.

“That’s a big thing in England, and so is curry sauce,” Island said. “People will come and get mushy peas, curry sauce and a cup of tea.”

The shepherd’s pie is one of Island’s favorites.

“We make all our pies,” she said. “We know what goes in our food because we make all our own. And we do a lot of baking.”

Baked goods include scones — similar to an American biscuit or muffin, traditionally served at teatime. They’re nothing like the Utah-style scone. Island was bewildered soon after coming to Utah, when someone at her job brought in deep-fried pieces of bread dough and called them “scones.”

“I showed them pictures of actual British scones, and said ‘These are what scones are.'”

Mandy and Nick turned most of the management duties over to their son, Daniel, about a year and a half ago.

“With food costs skyrocketing, it’s hard to compete with the big chains,” she said. “But as long as we can keep the bills paid and keep people employed, we will keep going.”


IF YOU GO

Little Taste of Britain

Location: 768 W. 1425 North, Layton

Contact: https://www.littletasteofbritain.net or 801-543-5707

Prices: $5-$13

Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; closed Sunday

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