Saturday, 1 December 2012

It’s always gratifying to be proven right - Inapub November 2012

It’s always gratifying to be proven right, even when no one remembers that it was your idea in the first place. Now, I’m not going to pretend that I came up with the concept of serving food in pubs myself, even if Inapub does, somewhat harshly, focus on the longevity with which my insights have been entertaining and informing licensees.

However, there was a time when I had to fight hard to persuade the publishers of a now defunct pub trade newspaper to devote any editorial space to food. Blinded by the wads of cash being offered to advertise dayglo alcopops, headache-inducing nitrokeg beers, and bag-in-box leibfraumilch, the commercial powers-that-were ignored my insistence that food was the way forward.
Happily, most of those soulless, dead-eyed imbeciles are now in occupations more suited to their skill set, such as grave robbing and grandmother retailing, while my crusade continues. While there are still excellent wet-led businesses out there, it’s increasingly unusual to find one that doesn’t include food as part of the offer.

So, I was pleased to spend an afternoon at the latest Be At One cocktail bar watching another domino fall.  The group’s 13th outlet at Guildhall in the City, is the first to include food. Ossie Grey, one of the team that originated the River Café, has developed a menu of sharing plates for Be At One.
The food is an object lesson in creating dishes that match seamlessly with the drinks menu rather than looking like an add-on.  The range include four sliders, including a tiger prawn variety, crostini, bruschetta and other hand held food with distinctive flavours, all great accompaniments to Be At One’s cocktail range.

In the brand’s defence, its earliest units were small venues which would have struggled to accommodate food. The addition of a food offer at bigger sites with diluting the appeal of the drinks offer should keep Be At One’s ambitious expansion plans on track.
Food and drink working seamlessly together? Who’d have thought it? Me, that’s who.
On the menu this month: I’m a sucker for a sausage sandwich, but the authentic US hot dog is rapidly overtaking the humble banger bap in popularity. Taking a cue from specialist restaurant chains such as Giraffe, pub group Grand Union has come on board with its new ‘Dirty Dogs’ menu. Options include the Hell Dog with chorizo, jalapenos, melted cheese and fiery sauce, and the Dog’s Dinner, topped with bacon, cheese, barbecue sauce and accompanied by onion rings. It’ a far cry from the day’s when the extent of choice “onions with that?” 
This ‘Pub Food With Porter’ column appears in the November/December 2012 edition of Inapub

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