The Heart of the Neighborhood (Origins of the Local Gastropub)
August 2012: Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary gets updated. Amongst the new additions are words like man cave, sexting, and . . . gastropub. Say what? Don’t worry, the only “Excuse me” that will be needed here is in reaching your table without bumping into fellow patrons.
1. a bar that serves good food and high-quality alcoholic beverages.
In simple terms that’s all there is to it. But as any good foodie knows, there is more to it than that. Let’s go back to the 1980’s, when Britain was in the middle of a recession and their reputation for local fine dining wasn’t exactly . . . complimentary. As the ‘80s gave way to the ‘90s things began changing. International cuisine such as French, Italian, and Japanese took the spotlight in London restaurants, thus changing the dining experience from so-so to something special. London had gained a name for being a great dining city.
There was one problem. All the focus was on foreign fare, not the traditional local flavors of English cuisine.
1991: The Eagle, Clerkenwell neighbourhood, London. Because of the ‘80s recession several of the UK breweries who owned leases on pubs to sell their product, had to give up control when they couldn’t make ends meet. Two businessmen, Mike Belben and David Eyre, take advantage of a struggling brewery and make a crazy decision . . .
To keep it “local,” the casual atmosphere will be maintained, but the menu is going to get an upgrade. Customers from all levels of society will be welcome. Whether a beer drinker or an oenophile, a foodie or an all-about-routine-and-comfort diner, The ‘new’ Eagle would have something for everyone.
And the gastropub was born.
The concept gained popularity and has spread. First across Britain and into surrounding countries, with Michelin star chefs the likes of Gordon Ramsay and his mentor, Marco Pierre White, opening their own gastropubs. Now, after two decades, the trend has started making its mark on U.S. soil. The first gastropub in the U.S. was The Spotted Pig in New York’s West Village.
By keeping the food menus local, organic, and creative, and the bars stocked with handcrafted specialties, gastropubs are here to stay.
If you’re in the Short North District of Columbus, why not come on by Arch City Tavern and try out some gastro fare for yourself. Our Amish chicken sandwich (locally raised grilled chicken breast, fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil pesto, roasted red pepper, chili aioli, house-seasoned chips) pairs quite well with Left Hand’s Good Juju (a Ginger Pale Ale on tap).