There was a particularly nauseating piece in the Morning Advertiser recently proclaiming the virtues of “gastropubs” and arguing that they should be seen as a successful contemporary evolution of the pub trade.
The growing band of gastropubs represent a golden seam of excellence, a burgeoning carpet of flowers prospering in the fertile ground of increasing demand for a high-quality, pub-based dining experience.Pass the sick bag, Alice!
There is nothing wrong with pubs serving food, and good food at that. But the essence of a pub surely is that it is a place for people to socialise over a drink, and there comes a point at which a food-led pub has gone so far down that particular route that it effectively ceases to be a pub at all. And the mere fact of declaring your establishment a “gastropub” is putting two fingers in the air to the history and tradition of pubs in this country. I’m firmly with Rowan Pelling here in believing that “gastro” has not enhanced the British pub but ruined it.
Cut to 2010, and my parents’ old pub has a smart new Barratt-style dining room glued on its side, and the epic-length menu offers “griddled peach and Parma ham tart [with] balsamic drizzle” at £6.50. No wonder gastro-pubs turn a profit – but where can punters go to nurse an honest pint?Many former pubs have “evolved” into successful businesses of all kinds from wine warehouses to tanning salons. Others have found a new role as fancy restaurants – it’s just a pity they continue to masquerade as pubs when in reality they are no such thing.