Pub Grub

Are Gastropubs Obsolete?

A Michelin Guide editor tells us to stop calling them gastropubs!

By Robb Walsh November 18, 2013

The Pacific fish and chips I ate for lunch recently at BRC Gastropub featured crispy fried mahi mahi, and baked and fried potato wedges, served with the traditional malt vinegar, a caper tartar sauce, and Carolina slaw. The fish went down swimmingly with a Young's Double Chocolate Stout. 

BRC Gastropub
519 Shepherd Dr

My wife drank a Pilsner Urquell and ate the BRC pub burger with melted Cheddar, maple bacon, "special sauce," marinated tomato, and a big wedege of iceberg, served with french fries. I highly recommend the lunch at BRC Gastropub, but in light of a recent reexamination of pub terminology, I wonder if an upscale burger and fish and chips really qualify as "gastropub" fare. 

The term "gastropub" was coined in 1991 to describe the makeover of a London pub called the Eagle by David Eyre and Mike Belben. Putting an upscale restaurant in a pub was an exciting new idea at the time and it caught on throughout the U.K with the younger generation. Purists complained that the new-fangled gastropubs were ruining the character of the classic British pub.

"Gastropub" was added to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in August 2012. Now, a little more than a year later, Rebecca Burr, the editor of Michelin's Eating Out In Pubs Guide 2014, wants us all to stop using the term. Siding with traditionalists, Burr argues that the quality of the food in the average U.K. pub has gotten so much better since the first gastropub opened in 1991 that the special designation is no longer needed. 

The made-up term does sound a little pretentious. But it was the gastropub concept that brought about the drastic improvement of pub food in the U.K., the U.S., and even here in Houston. So I'm in favor of cutting "gastropubs" a little slack. 


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