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Sep 23, 2008 09:49 AM

British Pub Dinner


the hubby's a brit and likes good old fashioned pub food and apparently everyone else does as well, so this saturday night we are hosting an british pub dinner for 8 people at our house. making bangers and mash with red onion gravy, a beef pie, and sticky toffee pudding for dessert, but need a starter. ideas anyone?


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  1. Whoosh, do you need it with all that lovely food. Oddly enough, in England all the pubs are going so gastro, good traditional pub food seems to be falling by the wayside. good for you for taking it on.
    Me, I'd just serve pub snacks. like salt and vinegar potato chips, pickled eggs, pickled onions and such. You could try to find a recipe for scotch eggs or sausage rolls. Perhaps an app of chips with a good bottle of malt vinegar and salt shakers available?

    Oh, give people a little break, and offer a little more veg than mash! Even Brits serve basic green salad. You could also do mushy peas or bubble and squeak. My mom was famous for leeks and cheese.

    Don't forget during dinner to put out a jar of picalili and Branston Pickle!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Diana

      I've been racking my brains to think of a traditional English pub starter that would go with that menu, and I have to say I'm struggling! It needs to be light, so something like potted shrimps is out, as is Welsh rarebit. You could try something very retro, like a prawn cocktail, or a glass of tomato juice (strange but true that fruit juice used to be considered a starter).

      You would never get Branston Pickle or picalilli with pie and mash or sausage and mash. Branston Pickle goes with a ploughman's lunch, and picallili is often served with some kind of paté, such as a ham hock terrine.

      1. re: greedygirl

        thanks guys - i've tossed the beef pie overboard - don't need it. have noticed that even some of the gastropubs we've been in recently have had gussied up versions of bangers and mash! i honestly think people love all that comfy, cozy old stuff. my husband is never so happy as when he's got a pint of bitter and a slab of shepherd's pie! anyway, like both of your suggestions.

        greedygirl, your suggestion of prawn cocktail cracked me up because that is exactly what chris suggested. he also asked for black forest gateau ---

        1. re: greedygirl

          In my household, picalili and Branston went out at most meals. My dad is from Droitwich (Worcestershire) and my mum is from Nottingham. I enjoyed Branston on mash, Branston on toast (or Bovril), Branston on Eggs and more. Picalili can go on whatever you want.

          What about a good starter of pickled beetroot? Tomato Consume?

          Here is a Recipe for "Dormers" my grandmotehr saved a clipping of:
          take 1lb any cold meat and 1/4 lb suet (lard) chopped very fine, 2 oz rice boiled till tender, mix them together and season with pepper and salt. make them the size of a large sausage, roll them in crumbs of bread, fry them nice and brown and serve them with gravy"

          This is from Grandma's battered old "Modern Cookery Illustrated"
          1 cucumber-(a large one, I'm thinking!)
          4 large tomatoes
          4 oz lean ham
          2 tablespoons mayonnaise
          yolks of 2 hard boiled eggs

          Skin the tomatoes, cut a silce odd the top and scoop out some of the centre. peel the cucumber, cut it into to to three inch lengths and scoop out some of the centre.

          Put the ham through a fine mincer. Rub the centres of the tomatoes through a sieve and add it to the ham, season with pepper, rub the egg yolks through a sieve and add them, also the mayonnaise. Mix well with the tomato fill the tomato and cucumber cases with this. Serve on lettuce leaves that have been dressed with oil and vinegar.

          How about leek soup. From the same book

          5 large leeks
          1 large onion
          strip of white celery
          little bunch of fresh herbs
          1 qt white stock (chicken or veggie, i think)
          1 oz ground rice 2 tablespoons milk
          salt and pepper, if required
          3 tablespoons cream
          yolks of 2 eggs

          trim leeks, wash to remove grit, wash celery and peel onion. Cut all the vegetables into small pieces, put them in a stewpan with stock and herbs and simmer gently till quite tender. Rub through a wire sieve (these days we use an immersion blender) and return to the stewpan.
          Mix the rice with the milk. Stir it in and stir while it boils five minutes; add salt and pepper if the stock was not sufficiently seasoned. Stir in the cream, then take the pan off the stove and stir in,lightly the beaten egg yolks. Stir over very gentle heat for three to four minutes, but do not let boil. then serve.

          me, I'd add a little crisp bacon, maybe right before serving

      2. It isn't a starter but I'm wondering where "Toad in the Hole" is on your list. A couple of Pale Ales along side one (or two) of those and I'm a happy camper.

          1. Twiglets and lucozade

            No, really. I think with the main menu, toad in the hole is too heavy.

            Start em with a Pimm's and some cheese.

              1. re: scuzzo

                And here's a recipe from Grandma's book!

                SCOTCH EGGS

                1 tablespoon tomoto catsup
                4 eggs
                1/4 lb cold veal, ham or beef
                2 oz stale bread
                sprig of parsley
                pinch dried mixed herbs
                pepper and salt
                1 tablespoon flour

                cut the meat and bread into small pieces. mix them with the herbs and parsley (in old england, parsley apparently wasn't an herb), season well with pepper and salt. Moisten with half the tomato sauce , and put it all through the mincer. Boil the eggs hard; when cold, remove the shells, dip the eggs in flour, then coat them with the minced meat. Roll them lightly in flour and fry a golden brown in boiling fat. Drain them well, leave till cold, then cut in half. Arrange on a dish and surround with small salad. Scotch eggs may also be served hot with gravy-without being cut in halves