Time called on gastropubs

Last orders for metro foodies as hard times see a move back to the bar stool

The gastropub is off. The formerly much-loved eateries and watering holes of choice of metropolitan foodies look to have had their day.

This week the death knell will be sounded when The Good Food Guide, which has chronicled the nation's best restaurants for 60 years and is about to publish its 2012 edition, will deem the word unpalatable in these tough economic times. It has banned it from this and future editions of the guide.

Widely credited with launching the gastropub revolution in 1991, the Eagle in Clerkenwell, London, began offering customers quality food from an open kitchen alongside the bar, starting a trend that many followed.

But Elizabeth Carter, consultant editor for the guide, believes that the term had become a byword for an establishment's ambitions and, at a time when pubs have been hit hard by the recession, this inflexible attitude was becoming a thing of the past. "Our feeling with the gastropub was that it was a bit of a bandwagon that a lot of people have jumped on to. A lot of chains have taken that gastropub style.

"I think customers are getting bored with it. Pubs have to be socially diverse, they have to offer many things whether you pop in for a drink and a snack or you want a proper meal."

This view is supported by a Leisure Wallet report released last week by financial advisers Zolfo Cooper, which showed that the average number of pub visits per person a month had dropped from five to four in the past year and that the average spend per visit was down by 19 per cent to £15.08.

Antony Worrall Thompson, head chef and owner of the Greyhound pub near Henley-on-Thames, approves of the move away from the term. "I hate that word. I think all pubs should avoid the word gastropub. To me it's a bit like all the critics giving a film a triple AAA rating, you go and you think, 'What did they see in that?' It sets you up for disappointment. If you label yourself 'gastropub' you're asking for trouble, that's for sure."

Tom Aikens, the Michelin-starred chef and owner of Tom Aikens Restaurant in Chelsea, disagrees, however, believing that demand will always be there for gastropubs. "I think the gastropub does target a wider audience than a traditional pub or other restaurants and they are pretty flexible in what they serve."

However, the more recent trend the guide wants to represent is highlighted by Simon Goodman, the head chef and co-owner of the Duke of Cumberland Arms in Henley, West Sussex, which is named as Pub of the Year in the latest guide.

He wants to reduce the impact of a booking culture by treating drinkers with respect. When he took over the premises he maintained the atmosphere by keeping the bar element and adding a new dining space.

"To keep the drinkers happy is as much of a mission for me as keeping the restaurant full.

"When I was younger, I wanted a more restaurant-style pub, I was aiming for the very gastro end of the market and fighting for rosettes and prizes; but now I just try to feed people what they want."

The guide's Ms Carter believes the future will see pubs returning to older ways: "Pubs realise that your local business is very important, as is hospitality. It's getting away from being like a restaurant and going back to being a pub."

Additional reporting by Lilee Cathcart and Eshe Nelson

How the bubble began to squeak

1991 The term gastropub is coined when David Eyre and Mike Belben take over the Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London. Eyre later says: "I am always and continually bemused as to why the Eagle was regarded as a radical idea. We took an obvious idea and gave it a twist."

1996 One of the first exponents of the gastropub, the Starr Inn, in Harome, North Yorkshire, opens. The pub goes on to earn a Michelin star in 2002.

2001 The Stagg Inn in Titley, Herefordshire, is the first pub to earn a Michelin star

2003 The number of gastropubs reaches 5,000 out of a total of 60,000 pubs. The proportion of pubs serving food is now 90 per cent.

2004 The Spotted Pig, widely considered the first gastropub in USA opens in Manhattan West Village, New York

2004 Marks & Spencer oversees the launch of its Gastropub ready-meal range.

2009 BoHo Restaurant opens, the first gastropub in Hollywood.

2010 The wheels appear to be falling off the gastropub bandwagon as Gordon Ramsay has to close the Devonshire in Chiswick after it "fails to meet expectations". The Warrington, in Maida Vale, is sold in August 2011.

2011 The Good Food Guide announces it will no longer use the term "gastropub" in its publications.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'