Here’s the third and final (after “bestie” and “flummox“) entry in a series of posts based on words I only realized were Britishisms after reading Lynne Murphy’s book The Prodigal Tongue. They represent a sort of blind spot, or koan, for your humble blogger: if a word or phrase is prevalent in the U.S., how is one to realize that it’s of British origin? Sometimes I encountered it in the U.K. years before hearing it here; sometimes it just has a telltale whiff. Other times, you just have to rely on Lynne Murphy.
And so with “gastropub,” meaning, basically, a bar that purports to serve good food. If I had thought about it, I probably would have realized it’s British, as it’s the British who have proper pubs. In any case, according to the OED, it popped up no later than April 1996, when the (London) Evening Standard wondered: “Will stale pork pies and reheated bangers ever be axed from pub menus? The rise of the gastro-pub suggests that, one day, they might.” The term fairly quickly lost its hyphen.
It crossed the Atlantic in 2003. I can pinpoint the date (as well as the person who brought it over) because in November of that year, the New York Times reported:
April Bloomfield …, a 28-year-old English chef and alumna of the River Cafe in Hammersmith, just outside London, spent the summer in the kitchen of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., preparing for her new job in New York. She will be cooking at The Spotted Pig, a gastropub at 314 West 11th Street, when it opens in a couple of weeks.
After Pig, the deluge. Gastropub has made 315 appearances in the Times since then, including in a 2015 article about a Long Island sports-gastropub called Brixx & Barley. Instead of fried chicken wings,
jumbo wings … are marinated in pineapple juice, beer, jalapeño, cinnamon and other spices for about 48 hours, baked in a brick oven to render off the fat and grilled to order. There are about 15 sauces available, including maple sriracha, Jamaican honey and garlic Parmesan.