The term “gastropub” was coined in 1991, when David Eyre and Mike Belben took over The Eagle pub in Clerkenwell, London. Traditionally, British pubs were drinking establishments and little emphasis was placed on the serving of food.
If pubs served meals they were usually basic cold dishes such as a Ploughman’s lunch. The concept of gastropubs largely redefined both pub culture and British dining and has occasionally attracted criticism for potentially removing the character of traditional pubs.
“Pub grub” expanded to include British food items such as steak and ale pie, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, bangers and mash, Sunday roast, Ploughman’s lunch, and pasties. In addition, dishes such as hamburgers, chips, lasagne and chili con carne are now often served.
In August 2012, “gastropub” was added to Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. In 1984 Spinnakers Brew Pub opened in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
The first-ever custom-built brewpub in Canada, it heralded a new wave of brewpubs and craft breweries in British Columbia that followed major deregulation of the brewing industry in that province. Spinnakers served inventive cuisine, and Joseph Blake of Eat magazine claims it as the world’s oldest gastropub.
The gastropub phenomenon took off in the United States in the early 1990s at gastropubs such as Dhillons by Chef Matt Dhillon in Las Vegas. Later, there were such places as Dev Dugal’s The Redwood Bar in downtown Los Angeles; Red Table in Huntington Beach, California; and restaurateur and chef Sang Yoon’s Father’s Office, which had what Esquire magazine called one of the best burgers in the world.
Other gastropubs include Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, a gastropub run by actor Harrison Ford’s son Ben Ford, Brickyard, The Spotted Pig in Manhattan, The Wobbly Olive in Long Island, New York, Serena Sicilian-influenced Gastropub in Durham, North Carolina, and The Monk’s Kettle in San Francisco.
There are several gastropubs in Norway such as Kick Malt & Mat, The Crossroad Club, in Oslo, Grünerløkka Brygghus, in Oslo, Monty’s Gastropub in St Catharines, and the chain Heim, with open pubs in Lillehammer and Oslo, and a third location in Gjøvik in planning.