Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Chicken and egg sandwich

In a recent blogpost, Stuart Vallantine reflects on the decline of that onetime pub staple, the cheese toastie. I’ve written myself about how, in many areas, lunchtime pub food has largely become a thing of the past.

This led me to wonder whether, to some extent, the decline of pubs’ lunchtime trade is linked with their abandonment of straightforward sandwiches and toasties in favour of expensive, fancy ciabattas and the like. People wanting a good-value lunchtime snack have increasingly deserted them for cafés and supermarkets. It is noticeable how there has been an expansion in the number of small independent cafés in recent years.

I have to say myself that, given the increasing difficulty of finding any pubs serving lunchtime food, and the fact that you may end up paying £7.95 for something “dressed with mixed leaves and a few handcut chips”, the supermarket meal deal sometimes seems a better and more dependable option.

14 comments:

  1. Mmm...not sure the expansion of small indie cafes is fuelled by their cheese & onion sarnie offer. But I see where you're coming from. Pubs often serve dross at a high price point. I joke, but actually come to think of it a local cafe serving Keen's cheddar on toasted sourdough probably *would* find an audience.

    Thing is, a high price has to be merited.

    Too many pub sandwich offers are the usual ciabatta and cheap filling, with chips (who double carbs for lunch these days?) and a side-clump of leaves to justify the price.

    The main reason people don't go to pubs at lunchtime, however, is psychological - pubs are for booze. And no-one boozes at lunchtime any more - not even for a cheeky half.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think the bulk of lunchtime loss is the fact that lunchtime drinking is discouraged by employers. 20 years ago it was much more prevalent, but certainly from my point of view the non-availability of a simple, ordinary sandwich if I am drinking at lunchtime on a day off will make me choose a different pub. I don't want either a full meal, or some overpriced, overcomplicated thing at lunchtime, as a rule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd say not only lunchtime drinking, but even lunchtime going to the pub and drinking soft drinks is discouraged by employers.

      Delete
    2. Agree. 20 years ago, I used to take a lunch hour, either on a walk or occasionally with colleagues at the social club playing snooker with a giant cheese and onion baguette for £2. Ten years later no-one left their desk, despite recent NHS efforts to get office workers away from their desks.

      As you note Town centre workers have a lot more on offer from the new wave of sandwich shops as well as supermarkets these days.

      Delete
  3. I've always said pubs have got lunchtime food all wrong. Few are willing to pay £10+ for a meal at that time. I've seen a few recently offering a main and a drink for a tenner, or 2 for 1 on mains, which is a welcome realisation that they are in a competitive environment.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Its all become sadly sanitised. In the Seventies we had a few pints every lunchtime. Drove to a nice country pub at night, had 4 pints and as many strong cigs as we wanted (not the weak fags dictated by the EU which is all you can buy now) and then drove home. And you know what, we're all still here ! Don't believe all the Nanny State crap you hear now . Pip pip !

    ReplyDelete
  5. In Birmingham we also have a load of shops selling actually OK baguettes for a quid, which certainty compares well to pricey gastropub lunches.

    At least one of those baguette shops is just up the street from a pub that lets you bring food in though (Post Office Vaults).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would make a lot of sense for pubs to enter into partnership with nearby sandwich shops, so you could order from their menu and have your butty delivered to you in the pub.

      Delete
  6. When was the last time you saw a ploughman's on offer? As you say, these days you get chips with everything. Who wants a sandwich and chips? If I go to a pub with the ladyfriend, we buy one of these between the 2 of us. We share the sandwich and the chips and it is adequate for our needs. No wonder there is an obesity epidemic...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had an excellent Ploughman's recently in the Prince Albert in Broadstairs, and a disappointing one in the Prince of Wales in Ledbury.

      Delete
    2. My local does a good ploughmans for £6.95 and a superb cottage pie with veg for £7.95. Pub lunchtime food is not quite dead!

      Delete
  7. Syd Differential25 August 2016 at 21:20

    HACCP and 'elf and safety must surely take a lot of the blame.
    You can't just knock up a few cheese baps in the back kitchen and leave 'em behind the counter all day like you used to.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm not sure what became of having a few barm cakes wrapped in cling film in a plastic container on the bar. The last time I saw this was less than a decade ago at the red, white and blue in Featherstone, Wolverhampton (so, natch, they would have been cobs not barms) and it was exactly what we wanted. Then someone walked a donkey into the beer garden so the owner good have a quick pint. Looking on Google maps, the pub now seems to concentrate on burgers and there's a Subway next door...

    ReplyDelete
  9. Once again Tim Martin reads the market correctly: a sandwich or wrap with chips or salad plus a pint for six quid.

    ReplyDelete

Comments, especially on older posts, may be subject to prior approval. Bear with me – I may be in the pub.

Please be polite and remember to play the ball, not the man.

Any obvious trolling, offensive or blatantly off-topic comments will be deleted.

See this post for some thoughts on my approach to blog comments. The comment facility is not provided as a platform for personal attacks on the blog author.