Britain, Bloomfield and the Rise of the Gastropub
The word “gastropub” feels as familiar to many of us as “restaurant” or “cafe,” or even “pub,” the word from which it sprang. But the phenomenon is still quite young, and has a more complex past than you might expect from the simple, rustic fare it represents.
To put it simply: gastropubs are a result of Britain’s 1980s recession, when cash-strapped breweries were forced to turnover many of the pubs they’d held under lease agreements. Once such pub, according to The Washington Post, was the Eagle, a pub in the Clerkenwell neighborhood of London. When new ownership took over the pub in 1991, it decided to maintain a casual atmosphere, but to take the food up a few notches. The result was the first gastropub, and it sparked what has become a formidable culinary scene in Great Britain.
A porky incarnation hit New York in 2004, when outspoken British chef April Bloomfield, along with Ken Friedman, opened The Spotted Pig in the West Village. The place has been packed since day one, spawning new gastropubs around town, including Wilfie and Nell, The Clerkenwell and, more recently, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB and another Bloomfield-Friedman project, The Breslin at the Ace Hotel.
The gastropub’s reach now extends to an unlikely city: Beijing. The Beijinger describes Park Side Bar & Grill, which opened just in time for this summer’s World Cup, as the city’s very first gastropub. It features all the usual trappings, like dark wood, unpretentious food and plenty of craft beers, including Portland’s Rogue label.
At the Brickyard, you can expect a similarly laid back dining and drinking experience, but a serious devotion to craft beers. We’ve taken things a step further by pairing every dish on our lunch, dinner and brunch menus – from steamers down to our sweet potato burrito – with the perfect accompanying beer. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll be blogging about these pairings, explaining how they’re established, and taking a closer look at some of the spectacular brews and equally impressive brewers behind each one.
We’re glad to have you along.