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26-11-2010, 19:11
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There was a particularly nauseating piece (http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/news.ma/article/88982?Ntt=gastro%2Bpub&Ns=P_PublicationDate%7C1&N=0&Ntk=All&PagingData=Po_0~Ps_10~Psd_Asc) 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 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/rowanpelling/8156054/Lets-ditch-the-Thai-fishcakes-and-bring-back-proper-boozers.html) 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.

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