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What is Pub Grub?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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In most of the United Kingdom, as well as Ireland, there are popular establishments called pubs which serve both food and alcoholic beverages to a primarily working class clientele. These "public houses" are well-known for serving a variety of comfort foods, appetizers and bar snacks collectively referred to as pub grub by patrons. Standard pub food is rarely mistaken for haute cuisine, but it is generally served in substantial quantities and matches well with stout beers and ales, most notably Guinness.

Traditional pub grub was quite often a slow-cooked stew or a meat-and-vegetables stuffed pie. Workers with contaminated fingers might order a Cornish pasty, a meat stew encased in a doughy crust with a thick, largely inedible rim for safe handling. Other patrons could order a shepherd's pie, a meat dish encased in twice-cooked mashed potatoes. A serving of steak and kidney pie or a simple ploughman's lunch would also qualify as typical pub grub.

The menu for a full-service pub might also include bangers and mash, a dish which combines pan-fried local sausage with a bed of mashed potatoes and a flavorful gravy. The quintessential English snack food fish and chips would also be considered pub grub, along with a sausage and Yorkshire pudding dish known affectionately as "Toad in the Hole."

Modern pubs have also added some international foods to their menus, including American hamburgers, Indian curry dishes, Italian lasagna and Mexican chili. Indian dishes such as chicken tikka masala have become especially popular in the UK. Modern pub grub also includes typical bar food such as fried potato skins, breaded cheese sticks and fried chicken tenders or shrimp served in baskets. Perhaps the most traditional pub food still found on modern menus are prawns and a pint, consisting of boiled prawns served in a pint glass with a stout ale chaser.

The evolution of British cuisine from simple working class comfort foods to world-class fusion dishes can be experienced in new upscale restaurants known as gastropubs. Chefs have taken many of the traditional pub recipes and methods to greater gastronomic heights with the addition of complex sauces or exotic ingredients. As long as the local population feels the need to wet their whistles at a neighborhood pub, however, there should always be traditional pub grub available for visitors.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Oct 15, 2014

@Terrificli -- Good point and we have seen how local foods are integrated well into those American bar and grills. Head to the South, for example, and you might find chicken fried steak on the menu. Head to Texas and you will likely find some Tex-Mex in addition to the expected entries.

One could have a lot of fun just visiting various bars and grills around the nation and seeing what kind of local dishes they serve at each of them.

By Terrificli — On Oct 15, 2014

Bear in mind that we have a similar concept in the United States. Every heard of a bar and grill? You will find plenty of food made to go well with beer, wine and liquor at those things.

Some of them even "borrow" recipes from pubs to offer something a little different from competitors.

As for typical foods, you'll find things like hamburgers, cheese sticks, fries, a variety of sandwiches, meat and cheese platters and other food that is fairly inexpensive and meant to be served up with beer and in large quantities.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to DelightedCooking, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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