Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Pub is Dead, Long Live the Pub

Location: Aylesbury, UK
Published in Nov/Dec edition of Vale Life Magazine

FoodieOnTour Food Column
Nov / Dec Edition of Vale Life
According to a recent article in The Telegraph, an average of 16 pubs are closing in the UK each and every week; only a month earlier, The Independent reported on The Good Pub Guide quoting expected closures were “at the bottom of the pecking order, the Bad Pubs” adding “It’s high time they closed their doors.”

So with the Great British Pub becoming somewhat of an endangered species, there is an on-going debate as to whether better quality food could be deliverance or destruction for the old dog.

Being partial to a good gastro pub, I'm always pleased to hear of an ‘average’ food pub, that’s been content with serving up Aunt Bessie style cook-from-frozen spuds (other brands are, I’m sure, available), upping the ante and serving better quality food – but, there are those who mourn the loss of the ‘traditional boozer’, citing gentrification as the murderer and cold hard cash as the motive. 

So what is the answer? Personally, I think it’s a matter of supply and demand – if there’s enough demand for an old fashioned two-pints-of-lager-and-a-packet-of-crisps pub, then it will remain; if, however, the majority rule that they want better food with their beer; or, even more controversially, GREAT food, then surely that’s just progress. 

You may have guessed I fall into the latter category (though I do prefer a nice Chablis to a beer), but I in no means wish the old fashioned boozer dead as a dodo – there’s nothing wrong with variety. A number of people see the changes as a bad thing, complaining about hiked up prices for “ludicrous foodie nonsense”; personally, I think it’s more about getting back to home cooked, decent, fresh food. Maybe Britain has become acclimatised to lazy, passionless, throw-it-in-the-fryer, 50-shades-of-brown food, and all we’re doing is demanding something better. 

Look at the recent National Restaurant Awards, a pub won the 2013 top spot. You heard it… a PUB, winning Restaurant of the Year! Not just any pub though, this was Marlow based Hand and Flowers, which also boasts two Michelin stars. 

The Mole & Chicken, Nr Long Crendon

Before you blow a gasket, don’t worry, I don’t expect or want Michelin star pubs taking over the land, but somewhere in between would be heaven for me; and this is where a decent Gastro pub fits – better than the food you might cook at home, but not so fancy you can’t rock up in jeans and a t-shirt having booked months ahead.

So, with great pub food being on the menu, here are a few local food pubs that I would recommend checking out:

If you haven't had chance to pick up a copy yourself, then you can read the whole magazine on-line

Vale Life
Aylesbury & Thame
Twitter: @ValeLifeMag

1 comment :

  1. I think the 'somewhere in between' is the big thing for me. A pub doesn't have to be serving 'Pan Fried Mongolian Duck with a jus of Unicorn Tears over a bed of moon potatoes' but it also can do better than Walkers Ready Salted.

    Bar snacks can be amazing... scotch eggs and the like along with a good selection of beers and wines would keep a lot of folk happy. Retain the character of a pub without it feeling like a restaurant with a bar in.


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