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5 Staples for pub menu

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hi all,

I'm just about to launch a food driven pub in Bristol in the U.K. As cash flow is tight I'm looking to keep the menu fairly tight. Looking to have a permanent 5 core mains and then specials based on what's good quality and high gp. I've a good idea of what I want but would be keen to hear other opinions of what your top 5 pub menu items are. Think seasonal if you can.

Looking forward to hearing new stuff, although equally happy to have my thoughts confirmed. Don't worry about repeating items others have said as it'll give a good indication of how you all feel about them.

post #2 of 17

I think you will get more attention if you let us know what you think will fly in your new pub---and let the pros here get an idea of your vision of a successful menu might be-----


I've never been to an English pub----but I would hope for simple well prepared local foods---


Fish and chips perhaps---------

post #3 of 17

Well you already have a location so menu depends on your rent no?  Ahhh, let's see hear...Gravlox for sure with cream cheese and capers with lemon..easy.; 1/4 roasted chicken served cold with lettuce and dressing as served as chicken salad  (I actually had this dish in Brighton UK-thinking they served me Miracle Whip-**chicken salad some assembly/deboning required**).  Definitely a farmer's lunch plate- some local sausage, a piece of cheese, hunk of bread and perhaps a hard cooked egg...make it a "sharing" dish and pair it well with your fries with malt vinegar always- you'll need some beef chief here too...I'd go with a brisket sandwich and a Flat Iron steak. 

    So there you have it. I have lite fair for appetizer folk, fish, chicken, and beef. Perhaps pita bread and hummus even would be fun.  OMG I guess someone would say "Fish and Chips"....must of been an American...wait..I'm an American....but am fortunate to of been cultured and have traveled the globe a few times. I hate fish and chips/sidebar but if you must do it, do it authentic in technique but always put a spin on plating it (save the newspaper and go with brown bags). Do a red beet/seasonal salad with house made croutons...anything "house made" reads well on a menu!!!! Best of luck and I may get more ideas later.. 

post #4 of 17

Garlic fries are really good with beer. a couple of years ago i went to a local beer brewery in my home town, ordered some garlic fries it was fantastic.

post #5 of 17

I would suggest bangers and mash with mushy peas would be a good start.

post #6 of 17

Um, what do your prospective customers like? That, for me, would be the starting point, after all, you DO want them to come through the door, right?

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
In terms of what my customers want, who knows? The site has been shut for 10 months and it's in a rough part of town. Not far up the road a few pubs are really turning things around and offering the type of experience that the majority of people are looking for, rather than the old school boozer with net curtains and an old boy stood in the doorway smoking a woodbine giving evil looks to anyone that dares thinking about coming in.

I think that the five staples would be:

Fish and chips
A variety of burgers (beef, chicken, lamb, veggie) and fries
Sausage and mash (a variety on rotation, each with a gravy to pair up with the meat and seasoning)
Vegetable lasagne
Rib eye steak with a choice of dauphinoise or crushed new potatoes with garlic.

The idea being, all would be higher than the general standard of pub food, as all will be prepared fresh on site and no microwaves.

I'm from Brighton originally and genuinely think it is one of the best cities in England.for.Sunday roasts and think Bristol is missing a trick here, which I can hopefully capitalise on (that's actually how I found, looking for the best way to prep pork belly for service and keep great crackling).
Apologies for any typos as I'm writing on my phone.
post #8 of 17

The Sunday roast is a great idea and will leave you with leftovers (or maybe not if your biz takes off  :smiles: )  for sandwiches and one pot specials on Monday.

Chicken and/or beef with a really good gravy.

We rotate and my go to for Monday is always a heap of thinly sliced meat on a thick slice of herb scented bread, toasted, with gallons of gravy.

For the side, real mashed potatos...thick, not that fluffy garlic scented crap that is run thru a ricer and piped on the plate.




Never been to a "real" pub but the shared plowman's platter sounds spot on also.

Don't forget the pickles ;-)



post #9 of 17
Shepherds pie...or cottage pie as you call it
Hot open face roast beef and/or turkey sandwich with mashers or steak fries
Meatloaf with mashers and gravy
Grilled cheese with bacon, tomato and grilled onion
Something with guinness...Lamb and root vegetable stew?
Black and tan soup bowl...Cheddar cheese beer bean
Baby back ribs with guinness bbq sauce
Loaded baked potato
Hot beef dip sandwich with au jus.....add grilled red onions and a horseradish sauce
Beer battered fish and beer battered chips
Beer battered onion rings

food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hey, thanks for the ideas. Just to say shepard's pie is lamb and cottage pie is beef, they'll be on the menu on monaday if there's anything left from the Sunday lunch.

I will have a light bite and sharers section and I was going to do a ploughman's lunch as the cheeses available in Somerset are fantastic (and keep well) but I hadn't thought of doing it as a sharer, could go well alongside the charcuterie board.

I think a lamb stew with suet dumplings would go down a storm, maybe have that for winter instead of the sausages.
post #11 of 17

Meat pies!  Those are my favorite.

I think it's important to have an idea of what the locals eat.  Want to find out? Go and have food at the competition.  :-0 Ask them what's their best seller, try it and think of ways to make it better and/or unique.  Also think of items you could make that they are not.  This way you are able differentiate your pub from all others.  Give people a dish to remember you by and have them coming back.  Ok this may be expensive research but worth it.  You get to know what people want and what other chefs are doing.

I know Bristol has a ridiculous amount of growth in the 20s-30s age group who are likely to be your customers so maybe look into that when you're planning. You could test out food trends that fit your brand (saw something recently on millennial trends, can find it and send it if you want) as specials ...or not.  Oh and buy as much local as possible. People love it.

Right, you didn't ask for all of this so I'm just going to say make meat pies.  Best of luck.   Obviously here to help if needed.


post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
There's a lot of pulled pork and slow and low smoked stuff in Bristol, massively influenced by American cooking and some of this stuff is amazing, I just don't have the space or money to buy the equipment to bother competing with them. The thing is that some of the pubs are doing it, but not brilliantly and while this is doing well with the 20-30's I feel I should stick to what I know and do it better than everyone else.

If I can get it right and get the cash flow stable then I'd consider having a pie section, or a selection of pies on rotation. For now I think they're edged out slightly, although may be a fish pie instead of the fish and chips.
post #13 of 17

What are they serving as a side with that pulled pork?

Just curious.

We just got a Firehouse? brand sandwich shop and the PPork is served on a huge potato/Hawaiian roll with mayo (or could it be Miracle Whip? eek!) based sweet cole slaw.

The slaw portions are prepped in paper (parchment?) and all the runny stuff is squeezed off by a guy with HUGE arms! :eek:

OOPS..... ahem...I meant to say the sandwich is great but so thick and filling that once was enough.


As usual JoJo has a laundry list of great dishes.

Any chance you could move down Texas way, Jo?


Meat pie, the sort that is eaten out of hand is always a hit here (here being south Texas) with the Louisiana (read Cajun) transplants....they call it something else, tho.

I make my short pastry with lard and be damned with the consequences.




Mr Pub...I notice that we spell plow/plough man different.

My spel chek is off or it is a regional difference?



post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
I was in New Orleans earlier this year and the food blew me away. Definitely going to have some specials from there if I can get them right. I must say I wasn't a fan of grits though.

I think the plow/plough thing is where you guys wanted to show a literary independence, along with actual independence, and chose to spell some things phonetically and lose letters that aren't needed e.g.color vs colour.
post #15 of 17

I will admit that grits is an acquired taste.

Used mostly under the protein and gravy to fill bellies on the cheap.

Altho if you have it on a menu just call it polenta and add a couple of $$ to the price and it will fly out of the kitchen, lol.



post #16 of 17

From across the pond,Great fish and chips gets my vote over fish pie any day. Can you explain your fish pie please? perhaps i will be pleasantly surprised.  I lived on quite a few british caribbean islands back in the day and some (most) of the fish pies i ate were beyond horrid. Something about hard boiled eggs in a cream sauce just never quite did it for me. Usually anything topped with mashed potatoes always gets my vote but sadly not any of the fish pies i ate. Perhaps it just got 'lost in translation' somehow. OTOH, the fiish pies(pasties)were amazing....just the right balance of spice and salt....and with a good hot sauce, i could never pass one up....oink oink on pork pies as well
thank you for the cottage pie- shepherd pie correction. I always get them confused.


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food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne


food is like should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

post #17 of 17

My 2 cents from the western US

You don't need fancy gear for pulled pork  we put a pork butt in a smoker with a rub for 30 minutes, then a pressure cooker with some sauce/spices  for 30-45 minites (or overnight in a slow moist oven).


Make a slaw  - we put chipotle/cayenne in ours for a bit of a kick...


get GOOD slider buns  we make ours from a production bread recipe - quick & easy 


assemble :

  Bun bottom, pork, slaw, bun top.  Serve, choice of some sauces on the bar

You can serve them all day long...


Might add chicken, beef brisket  - choice of 3 sliders on a  plate for sharing...


Best of luck to you.


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