British Pubology

The Tavern

This topic, in contrast to many prior ones, looks divisive because it relates to the much-publicized gastropub phenomena. Everyone appears to have an opinion of them, with sentiments generally ranging from grudging approval to outright hatred. I’m switching over to the first-person tense for this post because even the definition of such a place of business is up for question, making it necessary for me to discuss them, to begin with. Your intentions may vary, but that is to be anticipated. There isn’t just one factor that makes a restaurant a “gastropub,” despite attempts to claim that things like providing homemade or hand-cut chips or having a chalkboard with daily specials are the only characteristics that qualify. However, maybe we could include them in a mathematical formula or checklist we create.

More food than liquids

If we consider the category of places we believe to be pubs, many could be categorized as gastropubs because they prioritize food above drink and vice versa. The canonical gastropub, which I would pick out as the first type, has given rise to a very distinctive style (which one can even see creeping into restaurant decor, to confuse matters further).

Even though they may not precisely fit a restaurant’s definition, they share traits like being set up for service. Many festive gastropubs will have a room, a few rooms, or even an entire floor set aside to serve customers. While some may have a few tables or even just a bar stool area near a shelf for drinking (especially during busy service hours like lunch or dinner), it still counts as a pub. For instance, The Running Horse in Mayfair, W1, may be dominated by tables set up for service, yet it is still a bar.