I was slightly surprised to see a comment on my recent post about Brunning & Price pubs saying “That menu looks to me to be a pretty standard range of pub grub dishes at normal prices”, when to me, and many others, it looked very much towards the top end of the range. I had a similar thing here where someone described their offer as “hearty stuff at moderate prices”. B&P do what they set out to do well, but there is no way their menus or prices are run-of-the-mill.
There’s clearly a huge mismatch in perceptions here, so I thought I would run a poll on what people thought was par for the course for a non-steak main meal in a pub. The results are pretty clear, with a definite cut-off point at £10. 91% said £10 or less. I think I answered £9, but a lot of people obviously stick at £7. I would happily pay more than that for a meal in a pub that I was confident was going to be pretty good, but that would be a step outside the norm.
To get a feel for what people are paying in ordinary provincial food-oriented pubs, take a look at this Sizzling Pubs menu from the Vernon Arms in Poynton. 10oz rump steak, with chips, onions, tomato and mushrooms, £8.29. “Pub favourites” range from £5.29 to £7.99. And at the Micker Brook Crown Carvery in Cheadle Hulme, a standard carvery meal is £4.39 Monday to Saturday.
Pubs like this may not be the favourite haunts of CAMRA members or crafterati, but they’re where huge numbers of normal folk eat and drink. I can’t help thinking there’s a hefty dose of snobbery at work here.