The origin of the term gastropub is found through traditional English pubs that were primarily known for being drinking establishments. If pubs served food, the selection consisted of basic cold dishes, such as the ploughman’s lunch, that were offered primarily for their substance rather than flavor. Because pubs were popular gathering places, it was common for vendors to sell cockles, whelks, mussels, and other shellfish to pub patrons during the evening and closing time. In some occurrences, vendors’ products would be prepared by the pub and offered to its patrons. As time progressed the menu expanded to what is now commonly known as “pub grub,” including items such as steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, burgers, and frites (also known as fries in America). Many of these items were created to compliment the already existing beers, wines, and spirits.
During the early 1990′s, two British chefs took the pub concept a step further coining the term/concept gastropub, combining the words gastronomy (meaning the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food) and pub, applying it to already existing pubs in hopes of attracting more clientele. These gastropubs would often take traditional pub grub fair and reinterpret them utilizing higher quality ingredients and innovative techniques. The beverage menu received upgrades as well, including selections from local microbreweries and specialty wineries.
With only a slight difference in prices in comparison to the traditional English watering hole, it gave people the ability to enjoy a vast selection of quality food and beverage with the ambiance and accessibility of the traditional pub. The concept appealed to many, eventually gaining popularity throughout London with many dining establishments adopting the concept.
In the early 2000′s, the gastropub concept made its way to the United States, adapting the menu to some of the American bar favorites, with many opening in food meccas throughout the country. Notable gastropubs in the United States include Father’s Office and The Lab at USC in California, The Spotted Pig in Manhattan, and Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City.