Edited by Susan Nowak
CAMRA Books, through www.camra.org
Sniffed the travel editor of the NEW YORK TIMES in a column advising
a woman where to dine in London, "Choose a wine bar over a pub,
where the food is generally not distinctive and a lone woman might
attract unwelcome attention."
bad the editor didn't steer the curious reader to GOOD PUB FOOD, written
by Susan Nowak.
guide will help the weary traveler throughout the U.K. find a pub
where it is possible to find good food, relaxing ambiance -- and even
if a woman alone, a table both comfortable and well-stocked with comestibles.
Nowak, a veteran newspaper editor and consultant on food and beer
(she helped Sainsbury's develop a series of beer and food recipes
for their store magazine), writes on pub fare for the CAMRA newspaper,
WHAT'S BREWING. Over time, it became clear that a guide to pubs with
great food was needed to augment the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Nowak
took on the task with style, showcasing pub food beyond bangers and
mash and microwave frozen foods.
"Pub operators often try to compete for business by offering
food," says Nowak, "but many pubs are in danger of losing
their identity as they fight for a slice of the eating out market."
The ambiance of a traditional pub, both friendly yet respectful of
an individual's privacy, can be undermined by adding fast food service
"Above all, listen for the warning signs of poor cuisine: if
all you hear out of the kitchen is the gentle "ping, ping"
of the microwave, the food probably will not be hand-prepared, but
just the bulk factory foodservice dishes," cautions Nowak.
Fortunately, Nowak's guide lists hundreds of pubs with hand-made,
fresh food, with specials from favorites such as ale and Stilton soup,
to stout-marinated lamb chops and mixed grill platters, to salads
and vegetarian dishes, pastas and casseroles.
For example, the Eagle in Central London offers Tuscany vegetable
soup, pasta with grilled eggplant and basil, char-grilled garlicky
sausages with fresh fennel, and lots of robust Italian sandwiches
with prosciotto, capicola, salamis and Italian-seasoned roast beef.
"Chef David Eyre has such a reputation for this Mediterranean
style of food, interpreted for a pub, that he attracts many food writers
and media people to the pub," notes Nowak.
Other pubs, such as the White Horse on Parson's Green, garner recognition
for the more traditional fare, such as Sunday breakfasts with sausages
spiked with Bass Ale, eggs, grilled tomatoes, toasts and granary bread,
assorted farmhouse cheeses, and other specialties.
"But all the pubs I profile are committed to serving real ale
and fresh, delicious food," says Nowak. A guide worth investing
in, should you plan a trip to the U.K. soon.