I spent a week in England recently with my friend Josh and we ate in a lot of pubs. The food ranged from ok to excellent but I admit that I was sorely disappointed. Not a ploughman’s lunch or Scotch egg in sight. No pork scratchings. No bangers and mash. No Spotted Dick. No steak and kidney pie. Whaaa?
The first place we stayed–in Lechlade–was promising. Mushrooms swimming in creamy garlic sauce, stodgy lamb and spuds drowning in gravy and four very boring vegetables.
It was all downhill from there pub grub-wise. The next place we went–a lovely spot on the Thames called The Trout at Tadpole Bridge–featured a crab salad with some sort of roe and dill mayonnaise.
Thereafter, it was all curried this and Thai that and aubergine, feta cheese & beetroot cannelloni topped with a tomato & oregano sauce, minted yoghurt & cucumber with garlic ciabatta & mixed salad the other. It was good (and I would not kick the clotted cream ice cream with toffee sauce from the Rose Revived out of bed for eating crackers) but somehow it just didn’t say ‘pub’ to me.
I know that many of England’s 53 500 pubs have fallen on hard times since the smoking ban came into effect. I know that they get most of their profits from food sales. It stands to reason that the fancier the food, the more they can charge and the fancier the profits will be. And now that Heston Blumenthal has gotten into the pub racket there may be no turning back.
But I ask you, couldn’t they keep the odd Scotch egg or pickled beet around for old times sakes?