Anyone who has traveled to England or Ireland can attest to the popularity of the ubiquitous pub and its corresponding selection of good brew and pub grub. These local pubs, also called public houses, have a long history as places for the community to gather and drink beer.
Historically, the focus of pubs hasn’t been food. Many establishments would offer simple snacks, but they were usually as an aside or served to encourage more drinking. The food that was offered was typically salty: pickled eggs, pork scratchings, nuts, and potato crisps.
Over time however, British pub grub food evolved. Some pubs served ploughman’s lunches, essentially just a piece of French bread served with cheese, pickles, and pickled onions. Then, pubs began serving pub pies filled with steak and ale. In the 1990s, pub grub menus evolved again, and pubs began offering various choices and more sophisticated foods. Around this time, the phrase gastro pub was coined to describe establishments that served higher quality food.
Now, Restaurant Management Magazine (RMM) reports that the gastro pub and pub grub trend has crossed the pond and migrated to the U.S. RMM reports that people are drinking less than usual these days, so establishments have had to turn their game up when it comes to food dishes. Even many of the traditional pubs in England are seeing half of their revenue come from food sales. In the U.S., some pubs are choosing to serve traditional English or Irish pub grub like bangers and mash, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie.
Many establishments have taken a cue from pubs when it comes to their snack offerings, and now the pub grub being seen in America is a fusion of more traditional British fare with American style food. Easy to eat chicken snacks are growing in popularity, as are smaller versions of American pub favorite, the hamburger.
As this trend continues to evolve, look out for more British and Irish influences on American food, and the continued emphasis on quality food and beer.
- “Pub Fare Ain’t What It Used To Be”, Restaurant Management Magazine”
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