Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drop the Bad Food and Stick to Beer, Pubs Told; MICROWAVE MENUS DON'T CUT THE MUSTARD, CLAIMS NEW GUIDE

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Drop the Bad Food and Stick to Beer, Pubs Told; MICROWAVE MENUS DON'T CUT THE MUSTARD, CLAIMS NEW GUIDE

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK

PUBS should stick to what they do best and scrap their microwave menus in favour of better beer, according to a new pub guide.

Thousands of pubs "can't cut the mustard when it comes to providing fresh food", say the compilers of the Which? Pub Guide 2004.

And instead of jumping halfheartedly on the gastro-pub bandwagon they should stick to what they do well - whether it's ambience, decor or beer - "and not try to compete by offering substandard food".

"There is no need for a successful city pub to turn to food," said Andrew Turvil, editor of the guide. "And it would be better if some didn't bother - we don't need identikit menus from catering packs. The nightmare scenario is when you walk in and are hit with the stench of stale oil or see filthy laminated menus that offer everything with chips."

Some of the worst complaints are: . Frozen lasagne and undercooked chips, with stale lettuce and raw onion.

. Frozen steak-and-kidney pie with soggy vegetables.

. Baked potato nuked in the microwave.

. Over- complicated, wannabe restaurant meals.

. Overpriced meagre portion of Thai beef salad.

. Side salads of pre-packed leaves with no dressing.

. A good adult menu let down by bad children's food.

. Tinned chocolate pudding served with packet custard.

Tony Payne of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers defended pub food, saying many pubs offered "good, value-for-money grub".

But Iain Loe from the Campaign for Real Ale said: "Some pubs need to clean up their act when it comes to food. It's time to kick out 'keg' food.

"Rather than just going for the easy way out with boil-inthebag, they should look at what's available at their local market or farm.

"Rather than being overambitious they should concentrate on a few things they can do well. …

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