Know Your Buzzwords: What the Hell is a Gastropub?

The new Culinary Dropout gastropub in Scottsdale.
The new Culinary Dropout gastropub in Scottsdale.

It sounds like something you'd want to get surgically removed from your small intestine, but the term "gastropub" is actually a combination of the words pub (short for "public house") and gastronomy (the study of the relationship between culture and food).

The Eagle pub in London is credited as the first authentic gastropub; it opened in 1991 as a departure from the sub-par fried food menu and often less-than-cordial staff that many English pubs earned a reputation for.

The one element that truly sets the gastropub apart from a traditional pub is its emphasis on quality food. Microwaves, deep-fryers and giant freezers give way to fresh ingredients, revolving menu items and creative preparation.

The gastropub didn't hit the U.S. until 2004 with The Spotted Pig in New York City's West Village. Its success caused a slew of others to spring up around the city soon after.

Phoenix isn't quite there yet, but we're close.

Some have blurred their definition of a gastropub to include places like The Vig and Gordon Biersch (ahem, Urbanspoon), but a true gastropub changes its menu daily, uses fresh (often locally grown) ingredients, and is casual yet refined in atmosphere. It's not terribly expensive or stylish, but the high-quality food and drink selection should please beer drinkers, wine snobs and foodies alike.

Scottsdale's new FnB restaurant sounds awfully close though, as does Culinary Dropout (which Chow Bella featured last week). This new Fox Restaurant Concept just opened for business today and, according to the Web site, is Sam Fox and Executive Chef/Partner Clint Woods' own special project.

The only things keeping these two new spots from being authentic gastropubs is their lack of typical pub names (i.e. "The Pickled Cactus" or "The Ignorant Wasp") and slightly-too-chic decor. We can live with that.


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