Thursday, 7 July 2011

The good beer, good food pipedream

Been a while, but I've decided it's time for some mad bloggery once more. This post is partly influenced by the one made recently by rabidbarfly, but it's also something I've been thinking about a bit recently. It's part rant, part canvassing opinion, I suppose.

I'll get the rant part over first. Food in pubs. I like going to pubs for food. Generally speaking, all I ever tend to want is a burger, a steak, fish and chips, sausage and mash, and... well, that's it, really. That's kind of my point. I want basic, traditional pub food. If I want some fancy new-fangled foreign dish that I've never heard of before, I'll... go to some fancy, new-fangled restaurant (that I've never heard of before). To be fair, most of the so-called 'traditional' boozers I've been to within the last year or so have had pretty reasonable menus on this front. But, and it makes me shudder even now (and not in a sexually pleasing way, let me stress) I used to work for a company by the name of Mitchells and Butler. Or Butlers. No one ever seemed to know which was right. Before that it was Six Continents Retail, and before that it was Bass, I believe. The identity crisis of this joke of a company extended to their menu, where they thought the best way to appeal to the traditional pub goer was to come up with a menu that followed the foolproof plan of, basically, throwing all sorts of shit at the wall and seeing what stuck.

They did have the aforementioned 'traditional' dishes available, fair enough. But the menu was also peppered (haha) [Ed - you're fired] [Ed - I am the Ed] [Ed - you're still fired] with obscure foreign dishes. Not my cup of tea with regards to pub food, but fine as long as the recipes are spot on, and the chefs in the kitchen are skilled enough to faithfully create them... neither of which were the case during my, er, 'stint' at M&B.

Even if everything had been 100%, who in the blue hell goes to their local boozer and orders six thin slivers of bloody venison (and by bloody I mean the slices were fucking bleeding, I half expected a three-legged hart to knock me over escaping from a mad chef with a meat cleaver hurling insults in Arabic whenever I took food out) garnished with a single sprig of parsley from Brakes' groceries (sorry M&B, did I just reveal how shit your suppliers, and thus, your food are/is?) with their pint and their burger? No one.

Well, actually, quite a few people did, but this is Dulwich Village, dahling, where everyone is considerably richer and more pretentious than youse. One might suggest that M&B appealed to their target market with absolute perfection. One might. This one, however, will hurl your Incorrect, sorry, Insalate, Caprese to the ground and and shout BOLLOCKS. This is crap. This sort of food is pretentious, inedible twaddle, and I won't stand for it.

This particular establishment had two things wrong - a menu full of silly, non-pub dishes that weren't made correctly, and a dull, uninspiring beer range - the usual suspects, basically. Unfortunately, we don't have a kitchen at The Rake (well, actually we do, but it's upstairs, and can't really handle anything more sophisticated than Micro Pizza), but if we did, and we were a bigger venue, I'd like to think that, between myself and the persons who would have a say in such matters, we would come up with a menu that had very much the beer that we sell in mind. It would be all about beer and food matching, which refers me back to the rabidbarfly post. Personally I'd be against arty-farty starters and other dishes, as when I go to a pub, I like standard pub grub. But then, craft beer is anything but standard, so perhaps there should be food options that reflect that.

I think I've said my bit, really. Like I said, I'm sort of canvassing opinion - for my own curiosity really. What do you think? Should standard pubs stick to the traditional food, or try more, er, 'exciting' dishes, assuming they can do them well? What sort of menu would you like to see in so-called 'Craft Beer' venues?

Until next time, beery chums. I'm off to oil my sword...

...oh, behave yourselves.