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Apr 2, 2008 09:49 PM

Favorite Gastropub

Heading out to dinner with the boys tomorrow night. Some of them are really on the casual/pub end of things, but about half of us are foodies. We're obviously doing a dressed-down, cheaper casual kind of thing, but what do you guys think for places with the best pubbish food? I guess the Biltmore has gone downhill (anyone been since the new menu was put up a few days ago?) so I'm leaning towards Costello's or Audubon, maybe Green Street. Thoughts?

EDIT: And how could I forget Coda! Now I really need some advice haha.

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  1. MC Slim had a list on this thread -
    I have enjoyed B-Side and Highland Kitchen and very much River Gods and Garden at the Cellar.

    I have to admit, though, that the spreading usage of the term "gastropub" really BUGS me...didn't it originate in England, where it was suddenly revelutionary that some dingy ol' pub started serving really good food? Although Wiki has the term originating in 1991?!

    Haven't we in Boston (and elsewhere in the U.S.) been doing this for years without that moniker? I think we've always tended to blur the lines between places we drink and places we eat, much moreso than in England, which is why the concept of "gastropub" was so stark there.

    The buzzword sprawl here makes it seem faux-trendy - Won't this inevitably lead to TGIFriday (which has a bar and food) start marketing as a gastropub within the next 2-3 years?

    River Gods and Garden at the Cellar serve great chow in a chummy bar setting. Highland Kitchen is a kick-ass neighborhood restaurant with good bar space, etc. We don't need to use buzzwords and slogans to define them. Just do it!

    8 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      I agree, said the same thing (altho much abbreviated) a couple months ago. But I just read last week's gastro pub article in the Globe food section and the term will probably keep being used.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        I've eaten at hundreds of Gastropubs in the UK and even one in Canada, but I've yet to see one that I would happily put the buzzword to here in Boston (although I've not been to the Biltmore). That's not to say the equivalents aren't good enough here - on the contrary, Green St is my favorite restaurant in town - it's just that the setting and execution here is quite different to real gastropubs.

        I prefer to call the likes of Green St, Coda, B-Side etc. as Gastrodiners as this defines them more as an American enterprise and conjures a more reliable image of relaxed dining with a long bar and low lights a la Edward Hopper's Nighthawks.

        As much as I like them and am impressed by their food, I wouldn't call River Gods or Auduborn Circle gastro-anything. There are no locally-sourced daily specials on a chalkboard here. These are just bars with decent food. The distinction is clear and easy to make to me, but it seems many people are starting to slip-up.

        The gastropub movement was to take old pubs in interesting locations and cook up fresh locally-sourced local English dishes with a modern slant. The menus are very short with more emphasis on the specials board which reflects the market of that morning. Usually the kitchen is in full view from the bar and you can interact with the chefs over a drink whilst they work.
        This article helps to clear it up:

        Places that fall under my gastrodiner definition all serve what the internet calls 'American (New)' - short ribs, mac n cheese, long island duck, clams casino.. etc.

        1. re: teaTomE

          Have you had the steak sandwich at Eagle's in London?

          That's what's Tim's was like, at least with their burgers and ribs.

          Well, and methadone addicts, but still.

          1. re: Bostonbob3

            I have had that sandwich, just last month, and it was less than mediocre. What a disappointment. However, one of my DC's got the lamb chops and the other got a pork chop, and their dinners were excellent. Sides were delicious, and they were willing to share with me. But a place like the Eagle certainly doesn't fit into the cheap eats category. Not sure that anyplace in Boston/Cambridge has the same ambiance of mismatched chairs, dirty floors, and living room furniture; but the food at the Highland Kitchen is similar at about half the price.

            1. re: smtucker

              Hm ... I saw that Highland Kitchen has claimed the Gastropub title, but I don't think it is. Having visited the Eagle myself, a gastropub is a pub first with all that entails -- traditionally a working man's bar -- serving better than average grub. HK is a restaurant first with a kicking bar. Not the same thing.

              Some ideas about pubs that serve good food:
              Druid is a great pub first, resto second
              Publick House
              Green Street probably fits, altho it's also its own animal -- a GREAT bar that also serves good food.

        2. re: Bob Dobalina

          "Gastropub" definitely smacks of PR-speak, so it is bound to raise Chowhound hackles. But you can't blame restaurateurs for relying on glib marketing terms to try to differentiate themselves. Is the Beehive really the "cafe des artistes" or "starving artist bar" that its website promises? Not really, but you might give it a shot based on that, and then be wowed by the atmosphere, which really doesn't come across in photos, once you get there. Anything that gets people in the door the first time: after that, you have to stand or fall on your actual merits.

          I personally don't find gastropub an attractive-sounding name anyway, sounds too much like a medical condition. "More vindaloo, MC?" "Thanks, but my gastropub is acting up."

          I wasn't aware of the British connotation of gastropub as a place featuring locally-sourced specials: very interesting!

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            If we want to be pedantic about buzzwords, its "wikipedia" and not "wiki". Wikipedia is a wiki.

            And yeah, I agree with you :)

          2. two more to consider is washington square tavern or the publik house across the street.

            1. I'm going to ignore the semantics of the word gastropub and just focus on recommending pubs with good food:
              The Druid
              Miracle of Science
              Audubon Circle
              Publick House
              Matt Murphy's
              River Gods
              Green Street (more of a restaurant with a great bar)
              Highland Kitchen (same thing)
              BSide (while the cocktails are excellent, I find the food to be slipping lately and also the prices have crept up exorbitantly)

              Please note that while some of these places may use some seasonal ingredients, that's not their focus.