View Full Version : Called to the Bar - Gastro pub enlightenment comes with the scrape of chairs on a woo

Blog Tracker
05-09-2010, 09:22
Visit the Called to the bar site (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/2010/09/gastro-pub-enlightenment-comes-with.html)

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GmjnOI2FKxc/TINQv0kSgDI/AAAAAAAAAgE/HtSTVS4lIiM/s320/PICT2874.JPG (http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_GmjnOI2FKxc/TINQv0kSgDI/AAAAAAAAAgE/HtSTVS4lIiM/s1600/PICT2874.JPG)
From the windows of this pub you can see the restless breast of the sea, heaving and swelling as if sighing over some regretful episode in life. The Northumberland coastal path passes here while beer is brewed in what looks like a shed next door. The ‘English wheat beer’ confounds my scepticism over the habit of micros trying to follow a path that veers away from the standard bitter/golden ale one — commendable but all too often many breweries make a right Horlicks of it (cask conditioned Bavarian style lager ale anyone?) — and is rather delicious: lemony with a bitter twist and an appetising dry finish. The pub is all wood and at 6pm as the reserved signs start to lay their heads on the bleached out tables like small spaniels rolling over and asking for their tummies to be tickled, I know we are heading towards gastro pub land. I’m ambivalent about gastro pubs. They are easy to hate with their corporate mish-mash of terracotta paint jobs, type-faces that all seem to come from the same book of fonts, the forest of wooden furniture and chummy-mockney-psycho-rural-babble menu descriptions, but on the other hand when done right they are a fantastic amalgamation of good food and beer. And let’s face it, the best of English pubs have always offered good food (not necessarily fancy either), you only have to read Thomas Burke (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Burke_bibliography), John Fothergill (http://www.homesteadbb.free-online.co.uk/leics.html) or George Orwell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moon_Under_Water) to discover this. And yet, As someone who has been in pubs since the age of 15 I feel propriatorial about the pub — I often feel it’s almost as if gastro pubs encourage people who would normally turn up their noses at pubs but now have the nerve to colonise this much beloved part of my life but don’t really understand it. They rave about rose, sip on cups of herbal tea (in a pub for Christ’s sake) and grill the chef about the provenance of his pork. And at this pub as the 6 o’clock changeover, when the next stage of the pub’s day starts (food is served 7-8pm), staff emerge from the kitchen to rearrange tables, sweep the floor and drag chairs from station to station. My first thought is that this is a deliberate policy to discourage the early evening drinkers and push them outside (there are plenty of tables outside overlooking the sea, but what if it was raining?). However, slowly but perceptibly my thoughts start to change — I am reminded of being in a market as it opens, being surrounded by the bustle of people at work. This feeling adds a robust hardiness to the pub’s atmosphere, brings it alive — it’s the sound of the living nature of the pub. It’s almost like seeing the innards of how pubs work and the stripping away of the freemasonary of what licensees do to make their places viable. It’s theatre. I’ve been to this pub before and got rather in a lather about this changeover at 6ish, but now as I see it for what it is — one part of a pub’s journey through the day that adds an extra something to the atmosphere. However, I still think the man who came into a pub and ordered a mug of herbal tea should be taken quietly to one side and told to change his ways…
(after a long weekend in Plzen, I went on the family hols in Northumberland and stayed here (http://www.embletonmillcottages.co.uk/); Northumberland is perhaps one of my favourite parts of England along with the North Exmoor coast, east Suffolk, the Shropshire Marches, the Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District)

More... (http://maltworms.blogspot.com/2010/09/gastro-pub-enlightenment-comes-with.html)