Every Saturday, the Daily Telegraph Weekend section has an article about a featured pub. Those written by Adrian Tierney-Jones, as is today’s about the Hunters Inn in North Devon, are generally very good, and concentrate on what the pub is really like. But, unfortunately, some of the other writers spend most of the piece describing the menu and only as an afterthought may mention what beers are on the bar and say something about the character of the place.
Regrettably, much of the writing about pubs that you come across in the mainstream media seems to make the assumption that serving meals is the primary purpose of pubs – a view that is also the fundamental premise of the Good Pub Guide. This is not another rant about pubs “going over to food” – of course pub food is here to stay and some of it can be very good. But surely the key purpose of pubs is to provide somewhere for people to meet and socialise, lubricated by a few drinks, and this is something we should never lose sight of. Fortunately a recent pub crawl around Stockport Market Place showed the tradition of a good night in the pub to be alive and well in a number of establishments, in particular the Boar’s Head and the Arden Arms.
And the recent Channel 4 documentary underlined the point – what the former regulars of the Red Lion at Longden Common missed was not the meals out but the sociability of the pub.