Tuesday, 28 February 2012


Bistro-Pubs. Code for overpriced, up-its-own-arse food.

It’s not that I hate them. It’s just that some of them are all just way up their own arses, overpriced and overrated. Would you even pay close to £15 for fish and chips if you were somewhere else? Probably not. But because it’s battered with 34-day brewed local ale and the chips are hand cut (not that it’s not pretty much a given in these places) we must pay more.

I want to make it clear here that I do not hate bistropubs, as there are some great ones around, but some just take themselves way too seriously.  Here are some of my pet peeves:

Using florid language and adjectives to describe EVERY ingredient. You can shove your 76-year barrel-aged, honey roast corn-fed chicken up your crispy stuffed vine leaf. I know some of it’s an important part of it but they just sound ridiculous. That much detail can mask what is really an unimpressive, shrivelled bit of meat (resisting temptation to make an innuendo). Barrel-aged, 28-day hung and corn-fed. It could be aged in a sewer and you’d try to make out it was a hi-tech maturing process.

Pork belly. They ALL, without fail, have pork belly on the menu. It’s like a gastro rite of passage thing. It just has to be on the menu. It’s the least interesting type of meat and I don’t think I’ve been to a place in the last 6 months that doesn’t have this on the menu. FIND SOMETHING NEW (actually, I know what’s next: pulled pork)!

Gourmet burgers. Everyone has one. But what actually makes it a gourmet burger? Fine ingredients? Something truly special? Because as far as I can see, a gourmet burger is defined by well, anything, different from the usual ‘salad and burger’. Most commonly the classic ‘bacon and cheddar’ combo. Or if they’re feeling really swanky, stilton. It’s not really gourmet. It just sounds better than ‘high cholesterol and fat’, I suppose. More catchy.

Scotch eggs. I love Scotch Eggs. But they are everywhere. Once a horrendously uncool snack which was only fodder for family picnics, it has made a comeback in which it is practically a pre-requisite with your lunchtime pint. With extensive variations, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry that it is just *too* trendy. It’s an egg covered in meat. Let’s not forget that.

Reworked or ‘deconstructed’ British classics. Following on, there is a definite trend at the moment for reworked classics that used to be more school dinners than trendy pub (don’t even talk to me about Gregg Wallace’s new place). For example, fish finger sandwiches. I know for a fact that it’s the most popular snack in many places. Or sausage and mash. A classic dish that is on the menus of many. And they can get away with putting as much espuma or micro-salad on their deep-fried halloumi on the menu without being labelled ‘poncy’, because of dishes like these on the menu.

Beetroot, beetroot, everywhere! Beetroot and celeriac are the darlings of the foodie world at the moment. Once rejected because beetroot made everything pink and because celeriac was ugly and a bit weird, it’s difficult to find somewhere that doesn’t serve at least one of these two. Usually in an ‘artisan’ salad.

Eton mess. This one really pisses me off because it’s so ridiculously marked up. And it is near impossible to make it look nice. And possibly the simplest dish to make because well, let’s face it, why would you pay a chef to smash up some meringues and cover them in strawberries and cream? Apparently, a lot of people would.

Fish Finger Sandwiches. Yet another 'de-constructed' classic. Once an after-school treat, it is now on virtually every menu. They're one of my favourite snacks but they are horrendously marked up for something so cheap to make - fish fingers, mayo, ketchup and bread. And a few leaves if they're feeling fancy.

Sourdough bread. Absolutely bloody everywhere in the last few months. It's great, but it's just so predictable... Pate and sourdough. Get something new!

Menus which come on clipboards. So cool, so now. And very cheap and hipster.


  1. As much as I love pork belly (and I really, really do) I do get bored of it on a menu. There are other cheap cuts out there, try something different!

  2. Great post! I once had a "deconstructed" cheesecake. Why would they do that to a cheesecake?!?!

  3. Thanks for your comments! Those two points pretty much sum up my whole article - poncy and overdone!



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