ONCE upon a time, pepper was pepper. Then gastropubs got their hands on it and now it’s cracked black pepper. Here’s some other things they’ve buggered up:
Salt’s as basic an ingredient as you can get, so it’s nowhere near gastropub standard without a poncy name. The upgrade is Cornish air-dried sea salt, even though the south coast of Cornwall is the English Channel and full of raw sewage.
Crockery’s too 20th century. No gastropub would stoop to it. Instead your spatchcock will be served on a plank, and you’ll spend the meal carefully herding food away from the edges while beaming broadly to indicate that’s fine.
No-one’s exactly sure what pulled pork actually is. It sounds vaguely like the chef’s sidled up to it in a nightclub and turned on the charm, but when it arrives at your table, it looks like it’s been through a wood chipper. But in a gastropub it’s the only pork you’re allowed, apart from pork that’s been aged for a dangerously long time.
Artisanal cheese is the secret to a gastropub burger, that and artisanal Kansas City sesame buns, and candied bacon, and Hereford ground chuck. Basically adjectives about and skewer your burger and you too can turn out a gastropub-quality meal.
Buggering about with a service station classic by adding pepper to the sausage meat, wild Norfolk garlic to the breadcrumbs and leaving the yolk runny means that it now costs £12 and has to be eaten with a knife and fork. And it’s a Caledonian egg.
Massive pie with everything thrown in
To spend an entire meal dubiously chewing items of unknown provenance go for the signature pie. It says it’s free-range chicken and smoked German bacon, but they’ve also thrown in tarragon, capers, peppers, garlic, braised beef, speck and the chef’s signature gravy. ‘What the f**k was that?’ you’ll still be asking days later.