Pub grub favourites like the ploughman’s lunch and bangers and mash are disappearing from menus and being replaced with carrot fluff, edible sand and fish foam, whatever that is. And enough is enough, says the Good Pub Guide, as it publishes its 37th edition this week (September 6th).
It’s calling for pubs to go back to what they do best, asking for shepherd’s pie and fish and chips to make a welcome return to the menu. Too many people are having to ask the waiters what a dish actually is or are turning to their mobile phones to understand ingredients when they’ve popped into their local for a quick bite.
The guide blames Masterchef for the trend, because a show can’t go by without a parade of unpronounceable ingredients and new techniques from the contestants. That’s all well and good in a swanky restaurant, but in a pub surely you want pub grub?
You can take your succotash and your verjus and serve us a hot and steaming steak and kidney pie any day of the week. Or can you? The guide also said that raising culinary standards were responsible for keeping many pubs from closing in recent years and nobody wants to see the end of their neighbourhood boozer.
So, what’s the answer? Is it possible to have good, honest food without all the added paraphernalia?
Fiona Stapley, editor of the guide, says: “In the 37 years of the Good Pub Guide’s existence, fancy food fads have come and gone, but what always stands fast is honest cooking using tip-top local, seasonal ingredients, but ones that we can all recognise.”
The Old Castle in Bridgenorth, Shropshire proved this is true when it picked up the award for best value pub of the year. It serves fish pie, steak pie and roasted lamb shank with no trendy additions to its army of loyal regulars.
It even put real horse steaks on the menu straight after the horsemeat scandal and they were snapped up by diners. It just goes to show that it’s honesty that’s key, allowing customers to make up their own minds.
So, which dishes do you miss from pub menus and would like to see come back? Do you love a traditional pie or are you all about knowing what kabsa and matbucha really are? Perhaps you just play dinner roulette and order at random, happy to tuck into a plate of surprise ingredients – you dare devils.