It is an insane thing to waste food. Why? Well, firstly because the incredible human…
Not long ago I spoke with an American friend of mine who had just visited his first authentic British Pub in downtown London. As he sat in his comfortable chair enjoying his fish and chips and a pint of beer he was convinced that he was experiencing a centuries long tradition in its purest form. Needless to say he was surprised to learn that the original British Pubs were quite different.
If he had visited an authentic British pub in the past he would have sat in a smoke filled bar full of drinking, smoking men. Chances are the beer would have been stale and they probably would not have had any fish and chips to offer. In fact pubs usually only offered sandwiches, snacks, and maybe one hot dish to choose from.
Today British pubs are places for the entire family to enjoy, they usually serve high quality food, beer and wine, and the atmosphere is generally very comfortable.
One of the first steps towards the renovation of modern bars was the ban on smoking. This obviously caused quite an uproar, however, it was eventually accepted. The other huge step in quality was with the food that was served. The quality and the variety of pub food is really quite excellent, especially when compared with the low quality and poor selections that were typical in the past.
Many argue that the biggest part in the transformation of modern British pubs has been the food. Not long ago the term gastropub was coined. A gastropub is basically a pub where high quality food is served. Bar rooms were transformed overnight into restaurants where the entire family could enjoy a nice meal together.
Most pubs have stuck to traditional British cooking. You can find steak, bangers, mash, puddings, and of course my personal favourite: fish and chips. Some gastropubs, however, have gone away from typical British cuisine by including Italian or Indian themes, they advertise and serve curry dishes or pasta and pizza to their guests.
In between these two extremes you will also find British pubs which serve classic British cuisine with a modern twist to it. Many classic dishes are made over with chic ingredients replacing more modest ones. Rare cattle breeds and heirloom varieties of vegetables are easy to find on the menus of such gastropubs. Another refreshing trend nowadays is to use a lot of local produce.
As the food has become more sophisticated and variable it is only natural that the small cramped kitchens of the past — where they had actual kitchens — have become obsolete. Most kitchens have had to be remodelled, enlarged, and modernized.
History and Architecture
Great Britain is fortunate to still have many original pubs that are hundreds of years old. Many have become listed historic buildings and even though they have undergone many modern improvements they still have kept their original structure and atmosphere.
It is not always easy to achieve this modern transformation while keeping the originality of the buildings. The kitchens — as we previously mentioned — need to be expanded to include modern equipment. Sometimes big pieces like pizza ovens need to be installed. That is not to mention the bigger storage places for food and equipment or the larger work spaces that are necessary.
By Geoff Roy
Geoff Roy writes about the catering industry, specifically designs for pubs and restaurants within the UK.
More on the history of the English pub