History of the Gastropub

Welcome to the gastropub. A neighbourhood local that’s not quite a bar and not quite a restaurant, the gastropub is a British-born hybrid of sorts; offering a casual-meets-refined atmosphere that welcomes beer drinkers and wine snobs, non-fussy eaters and foodies alike. So what qualifies a place as a gastropub? There’s no strict definition, but to understand what makes a great and classic gastropub, we have to go back to where this budding institution was founded.

The reputation of dining out in Great Britain was about as bad as its reputation for fine dentistry. But in the 1980s and ’90s, things started to change (both in the dining scene and in dentistry). French and Italian and Japanese restaurants in London started getting noticed. And eventually, quietly, London became a great dining city. There was only one problem: All this fine dining added up to restaurants representing other nations and parts of the planet. There was no elevated version of the local fare.

Meanwhile, in the 1980s, Britain was in the middle of a recession, and many struggling breweries, which owned the leases on pubs, had to relinquish control of several drinking spots. One of those places was called The Eagle. And when Mike Belben and David Eyre took over the pub 1991 in London’s Clerkenwell neighbourhood, they had a great idea: Let’s keep it a casual pub but serve great food.

The concept quickly spread far and wide when restaurateurs and pub owners alike stumbled upon an equation that puts Einstein to shame:

Dressing up a bar + employing a real chef + good beer + putting populist food on a menu = HAPPINESS

Some of Britain’s most acclaimed chefs have since opened gastropubs, including Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White. In fact, a handful of gastropubs have even earned the highest of gastronomic accolades, the Michelin star.

Because words and trends travel quickly across the anglo nations of the world, the gastropub movement hit the United States at the turn of the second millennium. ‘Gastropub’ was added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in August of 2012, which just makes it extra official.

And now folks, *sigh of relief*, the gastropub is here.