Given their prevalence and appeal, it’s safe to claim that gastropubs go beyond the “trend” classification and constitute a distinct dining subgenre. But is it certain that they will remain popular? While gastropubs were becoming more and more well-liked in the US, several UK culinary experts predicted their extinction. The gastropub was considered obsolete by the Good Food Guide in 2011 and was afterward prohibited from all future recommendations. After editing the 2014 Michelin Eating Out in Pubs Guide, editor Rebecca Burr called for an end to the phrase in 2013, arguing that high-quality pub food ought to be the norm.
There are a few distinctive characteristics of modern American gastropubs. The growth of the gastropub in America is mirrored by the country’s increased interest in craft breweries. It should be no surprise that gastropubs are renowned for their robust beer programs, which feature regional craft breweries and even cask ales. Signature burgers are frequently the headline menu item at gastropubs in America because pioneers Father’s Office and the Spotted Pig are famous for them. Additionally, charcuterie and many fried things can be found on menus that frequently emphasize seasonality. Many American gastropubs have also embraced the “small meals suited for sharing” approach.
In contrast to the British model, American gastropubs quickly become their breed. Father’s Office’s Sang Yoon explains: “I now believe that American gastropubs have an own personality. In my perspective, most establishments that identify as gastropubs run more like informal restaurants than as bars that also serve food.” While often referred to as gastropubs, establishments like Bloomfield’s stunning The Breslin function more like a restaurant than a bar.
Even though gastropubs may be beyond their peak, new establishments with fantastic beer selections and terrific food served in a relaxed pub environment keep popping up across America. And that’s a good thing, according to Ryan Sutton, chief critic and data lead at Eater. The gastropub, according to Sutton, “has such a strong potential to be an entry point for Americans into cuisine that comes from more humanely raised animals than they’re used to, that is prepared with better technique than they’re accustomed to, and that comes from cooks and waiters who are hopefully better paid than they typically encounter.” The gastropub, not food per se, is the key to raising Americans’ interest in and spending on food.
In the end, gastropubs continue to reflect the preferences of modern American diners. It reveals that Father’s Office and the Spotted Pig, two trailblazers in the industry, continue to generate the most excitement, while Darden’s gastropub concept is still its top performer. Expect the existence of gastropubs to continue, despite the expanding fast-casual market.