Ploughmans

London’s best Gastropubs

Lately, pubs have been swapping their pool tables and fruit machines for zinc-top bars and taxidermy sculptures. Since the recession in the 1980s -and consequently the success of cheap supermarket booze- London has sadly seen many of its pubs close down.

A decade later, with food becoming trendier by the second, young entrepreneurs have seized an opportunity for creativity and gastro-fied the good old British pub.

So what’s a gastropub? Some might say it’s a pub with a makeover, but for us it’s a pub that serves delicious, locally sourced English food –like scotch eggs, fish pie, oxtail pudding– in a rustic atmosphere and at a reasonable price. Great wine, the latest IPA and real ale are obviously also on the menu.

Like bistros have to the French and trattorias to the Italian, the first wave of gastropubs has brought culinary pride to the Brits. They are the symbol of Britain’s food revolution –and evolution– in the past 20 years.

Now a lot of pubs call themselves “gastronomic”, but if you want to avoid cold lasagnes or spongy burgers, here is our first selection of our favourite ones. To be continued.

The Eagle
159 Farringdon Rd, London EC1R 3A
+44 20 7837 1353
www.theeaglefarringdon.co.uk

The Eagle is known to be the original one, since David Eyre and Mike Belbe took over the place in 1991. This spot naturally became a template of what true gastropubs should be: no-tablecloths, order-at-the-bar, daily-changing menu on blackboards and a place where to feel at home for either a pint of lager or a sit-down meal.

While their menu focuses on Mediterranean cuisine, we guarantee you that the food is as fresh and local as it is exquisite. They even sell their own cookbook, which is always a good sign. Mains are around £10-15.

The Pig and Butcher
80 Liverpool Road, London N1 0QD
+44 20 7226 8304
www.thepigandbutcher.co.uk

Once upon a time, Liverpool Road used to be a field filled with animals resting and grazing before being sent to Smithfield’s meat market. The Pig and Butcher pays a tribute to these roots by getting carcasses straight from Kent before butchering them in the kitchen. You’ve guessed it, meat is on the menu, but there are still some great vegetarian options; though nothing beats the venison. Dishes change daily and are between £13-17.
As most good pubs, this one has a great selection of craft beer (around 50 different, mainly bottled, ales).

The Bull & Last
168 Highgate Road, London NW5 1QS
+44 20 7267 3641
www.thebullandlast.co.uk

If you don’t happen to know exactly how much work opening a gastropub takes, than the Bull & Last will definitely make you want to open your own.

Walking into that place after a long stroll in Hampstead will instantly cheer you up. Although it’s slightly more upscale than the rest, it still has that typical pub vibe, with its wooden interior, neighbourly feel and, of course, stuffed bullheads hanging on the walls.

Their menu doesn’t change much but is absolutely worth the detour. Prices are a tad high, but you can still get a butcher platter to share with homemade rillettes and terrine for £17 (although they could add a bit more bread).
For our English readers (or anyone who happened to be in the UK during the 2000’s) they serve a great IPA called So Solid Brew.



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