The Glastonbury Festival is upon us – several days of great music/cider/beer/food in some beautiful countryside, OMC action – Blimey, you never had it so good. As you’re walking away from a bar that quite simply served you what you wanted and you sit down to eat your choice of food with no fuss, would you ever think ‘why can’t we do this all year round?’ 24/7 festival impracticalities aside, I like getting a drink and just sitting down in a field.
I’m fed up of pubs. To be more specific, I’m fed up of what ‘we’ have done to them. The Gastropub can do one. Don’t get me wrong, I like to see a range of drinks and food on offer, but get the basics right first. I expect a few simple things from a pub – decent beer, a seat, snacks or basic pub food. A nice interior and clientele is good but I’m not making a lifestyle choice – I want a drink.
Decent beer, for a start. I’m not being all snobby about ale vs lager etc, just keep a decent pint that doesn’t taste like you need to clean the pipes, whatever it is. Have a few choices on draught too, that’s always a bonus. Good range of soft drinks? Hurray! Not everyone’s alcohol intake is ‘upper side of social’ and some days you need to just ease into it. Besides, ‘soft drink’ is another name for mixers. I hate it when you feel like the drinks cost more purely because of the decor. I don’t want to have to undergo a credit check when I order a round because the Landlord has decided to only stock ‘craft beers’ and Trappist ales for the Brylcreem and beard set. Drink lager if you want, I’ll happily have a pint of a local bitter. People make an atmosphere, the type of welcome they receive… not battered watering cans, vintage guitars or a cow skull. Its a pub, not a shoot for Elle Decoration.
How about a choice of snacks? You know, crisps, nuts, that kind of thing. Doesn’t have to be full old school pickled eggs and all that. Brilliant if you make these snacks fresh and they come in a bowl, that’s great. I’d still like the choice of a packet of crisps though. I don’t think taking the same beer nuts that every other pub has, keeping them in whatever your wacky take is on a Kilner jar is then charging £3 for them in a bloody ramekin is cool either.
I like to be able to get a table, just to sit down at, with a drink – not be made to feel like its for the proper customers who have come in to eat a meal. A pub is a public house, its not an abbreviation for ‘restaurant’. Have a restaurant area, sure, but don’t make the bar feel like the reception area. You end up standing around awkwardly, in the way no matter where you are. I get that pubs have to sell food to make money. I want to eat in pubs too. What happened to good basic pub food though? Pub menu, things with chips, some pies, roast dinner. Simple you’d think but surprising how few places do it. Chain pubs do, but its bland, there must be a middle ground?
People tend not to have a ‘local’ any more, its an old fashioned concept. Do you want to be in the pub where there’s a rambling old guy in the corner, lads at the bar ranting about the footie and underrage drinkers hiding in the smoking area (used to be called the beer garden)? I wonder if the upside of that was you got to know people you didn’t otherwise meet, another chance to see the good in people as well as the bad. A chance to be part of your community, rather than going to the other side of town because they have these great mismatched ‘vintage’ chairs and a moosehead on the wall… hang on, this has turned into a grumpy old man rant…