Monday, 21 May 2012

Down the pub!

No, that is not where I have been when on haitus from blogging. Well, not all the time. Anyway, the Guardian's Word of Mouth blog currently features this post, posing the question "Do you find the idea of a pub that serves only vegetarian food attractive or off-putting?" If you know me at all, you know my answer. You probably even guess that I might prefer a vegan one - Glasgow has several bars that are at least most of the way there, so it's doable. But (and you knew there'd be one, right?) I'm not convinced vegetarians - by which I mean ova-lacto vegetarians who eat anything not directly derived from meat - are a sufficient target market. They can after all get fed pretty easily in the UK. This means two things. 1) There have to be decent vegan options. That should go without saying, but in my experiences of vegetarian eateries it hasn't always been the case. (usually, but not always) 2) It has to be somewhere meat-eaters would also go. This means the food has to be up to scratch. You might at this point be rolling your eyes at the idea of accommodating people who aren't vegan. Fix your eyes back in place, though, and consider this - new vegans don't come out of nowhere, and they don't just come from existing vegans having sex. (Not disparaging those who do) Demystifying veganism is vital to encouraging people to go vegan. Tasty, readily available food in a good atmosphere strikes me as a good step here. Unfortunately either the spin of the article or the pubs mentioned in it don't seem that great. I would find the middle of Smithfield Market an offputting location, for a start, and the food sounds a bit uninspiring - a jacket potato sounds more like the sort of thing I'd eat at a pinch in the canteen at work rather than a meal I'd make an effort to go out for. Not great for their business, or our image. That's sad, because there are many great vegetarian and vegan pubs around! For example
Stereo in Glasgow (more a bar than a pub, but you get the idea)
The Red Lion in Great Bricett, Suffolk - I haven't been there personally but the reviews speak for themselves.
The Gardeners Arms in Jericho, Oxford - I've been here loads of times and always liked the food and the atmosphere. (There are two pubs with the same name in Jericho though, make sure you head for Plantation Road)
The George in Brighton. I went in there a few years ago while on holiday and liked it then. It has been through a few upheavals, and there were stories going around that it had dropped in quality and started to serve meat. The menu they have now seems to be back to vegetarian with several things that appear vegan (although the labelling seems a bit crap).

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