Pub grub

I’ve never been one for an evening down at the pub.  When I was younger, I hated going out to meet friends there, for all it was a rite of passage and part of growing up.  The smell of cigarette smoke, mixed with that of alcohol and under-ventilated space  was the first downer, and then there was the problem that I didn’t – and still don’t – like beer.  If weaker, to me it tastes of soap, and if stronger, of iron filings.  What, really, was the point?

Over the last few years, pubs have had to re-invent themselves.  Now that beer is cheap(ish) and cheerful at the supermarket, and now that people can relax at home in front of ever larger TV screens, fewer and fewer people want to dig themselves out of their cosy homes simply to go to their ‘local’ and have a drink with friends.  So some offer Quiz Nights, or the chance to watch the Big Match on the Big Screen.  Many many more have given up the unequal struggle and simply closed for ever.

Some though are doing well because they’ve chosen to offer good food, and those are the ones we like these days.  The area we’ve chosen to live has more great pubs than seems entirely necessary.  There are at least four within very easy reach.  Get talking about matters of food when you’re out with your friends, and everyone will have yet another favourite haunt which they’ll insist you should try.  What all these pubs have in common is cosiness.  They’re warm and welcoming: muted colours and old oak furnishings, and often a slightly idiosyncratic lay-out which guarantees you a degree of privacy whilst also enabling you to people-watch .  At this time of year, there’s sure to be a log fire flickering in the corner.  Cheerful young staff will whisk you to a table as you arrive and summarise the ‘daily specials’.  These pubs tend to have a limited range of dishes on offer, but that’s because the menu is designed round what’s available on the day, for that day.

There’s beer to drink – of course there is, it’s a pub after all – but these days there’s a decent wine list too, although the mark-up’s way beyond what we got used to in France.

So we’ve traded treating ourselves to a ‘formule’ at some local French restaurant, sitting outside and relaxing  under the welcome shade of a large umbrella in favour of a cosy hour or two over a meal in front of the fire in an English pub.  And do you know –  they both have their special charms.

Here we are today at the Freemasons Arms in Nosterfield.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

13 thoughts on “Pub grub”

  1. This is the number one reason I’d like to live in the UK or Ireland–I love pubs, for all the reasons you say. I love the coziness, the warmth, the people who go, the food, and I even like beer! I envy you!

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  2. And I am sure a good time was had by all – AND I agree with the smoke, but on our side of the pond, there is no smoking indoors anymore. Would love to have a pub to visit and lift a pint! Have a great week!

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      1. The dark ages were indeed dark – I recall when the tide was turning against smoking 20 years ago, it has made a huge difference in restaurants and food service establishments of all types since. I used to reek of smoke after a night of work waiting tables…. So glad it’s changed. I don’t do that anymore, but when I go out I don’t have to wade through smoke. Agreed

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  3. I used to work behind a bar when I was a student and at the end of a session could barely see because of the smoke. I think the best pub food should be locally sourced?

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  4. …….sounds great, would love to join in … – instead: lifting a glass of red French wine to our health ! anna xxx

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    1. Erm. I had a really good grilled salmon dish, wjhile Malcolm, complaining that it was the only way he’d ever get any this Christmas, chose turkey in a fairly trad. presentatipn. But it was well done. I remember that we hugely enjoyed the puds…. but now I can’t remember what they were… Senility creeps on…….

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