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Enduring love: 30 years of the great British gastropub | Jay Rayner

Blackboard menus, sanded floors, posh grub and a pint: it’s a recipe that’s served gastropubs very well. Jay Rayner looks back on a match made in heavenOn a June day in 1992, with enough blue sky to fill a beach holiday, I attended the best-catered wedding I have ever been to. There was a buffet of whole pewter-skinned salmon baked in olive oil, slabs of grilled chorizo punchy with paprika and a hit of chilli, and rustic salads heavy with rocket. Frankly, the quality was a relief, because that wedding was my own. The chef was David Eyre and the open kitchen he was cooking from, an early iteration of its kind, belonged to the Eagle on Farringdon Road in London, catering their first ever nuptials. Regularly, it’s cited as Britain’s original gastropub. Eyre and his business partner, the restaurateur Michael Belben, had acquired the knackered site right next to the Guardian’s then offices only 18 months before.Accordingly, next year marks the 30th anniversary of a movement that has shaped Britain’s food landscape, and dispatched an awful lot of lamb shanks in the process. For all its many positives – who doesn’t like mismatched furniture and a bowl of artisanal pork scratchings? – it’s not been universally popular. Even the word “gastropub” infuriates some. Rob Shaw, the restaurateur behind brilliant stalwarts such as the Anchor and Hope in London and Oxford’s Magdalen Arms, told me he found it “cringe-worthy”. Having raised boys through their teenage years, thus spending many meal times being told that most things I do are “cringe-worthy”, including breathing, I feel a certain fellowship with anything dismissed in such a way. Continue reading…