If you ask most people to define a pub as opposed to a bar, restaurant or club, the conclusion will usually be a statement along the lines of: “It’s hard to say, but I know one when I see one.”
After our irritating experience in the Greenwich Union a couple of weeks back, we’ve been giving this some thought.
Could the defining features of a pub be informality and the dominant presence of beer?
- Table reservations are one thing: pubs where you have to reserve a table stop feeling like pubs.
- Food in pubs is a good thing, but table cloths, candlesticks and cutlery laid out when you arrive probably mean you’re in a restaurant.
- If you’re expected to eat, then that’s not very pub-like.
- If there are bouncers then it’s either a bloody rough pub or some kind of club or bar.
- Dress codes (when actually enforced…) are not very pub-like.
- If the wine list has had more thought put into it than the beer, it’s probably a 1980s wine bar disguised as a pub.
- We’re fans of continental-style waiter service, but is it something you’d expect in a pub?
It’s tempting to add that places with more chrome than wood are bars, but that’s entirely superficial.
If you can wander in wearing jeans and trainers and just order a pint at the bar, then it’s a pub, regardless of the decor.