Once upon a time, the British pub was typically intended as a frugal beer house, where Britons could enjoy a “pint” after work. Today, that concept is outdated, as London's culinary scene has been taken over by gastropubs
The British have always had a strong love affair with pubs. There are over 50,000 in the UK and they are often worshipped as the focal point of a community; a place to celebrate and mourn in equal measure.
Originally, the British pub did not serve food, aside from some crisps and snacks, in very rare cases. However, throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the original concept of pub started to undergo substantial transformations. And now we have a very strong culture of establishments selling a wide range of beers, spirits and high quality, sustainable food.
A gastropub is not simply a restaurant that has beer on tap; nor is it an ale house that serves a ploughman’s lunch as a side thought; it is, by definition, a place where good food and drink sit seamlessly side by side. The gastropub movement has been widely attributed to the rise in prominence of British cuisine which has allowed Britons to embrace their heritage and add in a modern twist. The level of knowledge that ordinary ‘punters’ now have of food has altered their expectations greatly. Standards have risen as people have become increasingly aware of the quality ingredients which can be sourced from The British Isles. Pallets have changed, they have become more adventurous and discerning and local pub menus have been required to adapt.
Gastro pub menus are dominated by provenance heavy wording, emphasizing the locally sourced food. Such a description also implies quality and pride in what is being served with all details being laid out to the paying customer.
‘Middle White pork terrine, crispy ear, pickled mustard seeds & ale chutney’
‘Norfolk Horn lamb shank pie, slow cooked potato, new season carrots & tarragon jus’
‘Suffolk chicken, sage & bacon stuffing’
What must happen after this, however, is the food must actually live up to this reputation! And in many cases – it does! The concept of a British Gastro-Pub has become an institution in itself, with people automatically thinking of a delicious Sunday Roast served alongside a quality ale. Such establishments are attracting some of the UKs best chefs who can use their skill set to design locally sourced, inventive menus and educate the general British public on what their own country has to offer, in terms of cuisine.
Its opponents, however, will argue that a pub should stick to serving beer, with no greater culinary aspirations than a bought-in pork pie. Whilst I agree that scallop fondant with fois gras foam, has no place on a pub menu, there are few things more pleasing than the combination of good food and beer, both under the same roof.
Emma Conlon - Recruitment Consultant, Temporary Division
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