Location: Boston, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
§ A Brief History of the Gastropub §
A portmanteau of the words gastronomy and pub, the term gastropub originated in the United Kingdom in the late 20th century.
Like when the first Cro-Magnons discovered fire by rubbing two stones together, two Londoners stumbled upon a concept that would forever change the human race when they found you could please Englishmen with the drunken munchies by rubbing a pub and a kitchen together.
According to culinary beer lover’s lore, the first gastropub was born in Clerkenwell, London with the revolutionary “Steak-over” of the Eagle Pub.
The concept quickly spread far and wide when restaurateurs and pub owners alike stumbled upon an equation that puts Einstein to shame:
Dressing up a bar + employing a real chef + good beer + putting manly food on a menu = Scrooge McDuck-like Riches
Because words and trends travel quickly across the anglo nations of the world, the gastropub movement hit the United States at the turn of the 2nd millennium.
Today, you can find a g-pub in nearly any American city worth their salted fish ‘n chips, including that ever-historic town where our forefathers first raised their middle fingers in unison to the British empire – Boston.
I suppose us grizzly, bearded New England patriots have come to a point of compassion and forgiveness with our better-mannered cousins across the pond, because the gastropub is the biggest food phenomenon to hit the Bean since clam chowder.
In what has seemed like an explosion, Boston has witnessed the opening of Citizen Public House, Meadhall, Foundry on Elm, Saloon, Stoddard’s, Russell House Tavern, Five Horses, Lord Hobo, JM Curley, Park, and the Tip Tap Room. As I pound out these words, there is likely another gastropub under construction.
Today we turn our attention to the Gallows – a SoWA (South of Washington) South End destination that is one of the pioneers of the g-pub trend in the area. These guys are among the group of restaurants getting it right…
When Urrg and Gruurg first found fire, their cro-colleagues must have banged rocks together without success. Modern man suffers from the same issue, and too often gastropubs end up hitting the beer side without paying enough attention to the quality of the eats.
Unfortunately, most Boston g-pubs (think Russell House, Foundry on Elm, Park, Saloon) end up being simply snazzy places to drink a craft beer along with a nibble or two rather than propelling the food to the forefront.
The Gallows definitely joins Citizen Public House, JM Curley, Stoddard’s and Lord Hobo by successfully copying a technique that will someday lead to the next iteration of human kind.
Gallows presents a chill, classy, dimly-lit setting in which to enjoy good food and beer. With a nice menu that features several meat-and-cheese-laden “boards” (we’ll cover the charcuterie trend in a separate post), a few versions of the Canadian Classic poutine, sandwiches, burgers, and slightly more dainty dishes like grilled octopus and ginger soy tofu – the Gallows has something for both beer-bellied gluttons and vegetarians (good thing beer is plant-based).
I specifically ventured here for one item and one item only – the Our Way burger. A simple affair that is cooked in the West Coast thin tradition and topped with cheddar, griddled onion and pickles, the Our Way burger is a commendable thing that should be tried by any burger enthusiast. In fact, I have named it to my closely scrutinized and ever-evolving Top Ten Burgers in Boston List. I was equally pleased by the Pretty Things IPA and Duvel I enjoyed on draft.
As mankind continues to bang pubs and kitchens together to form sparks of frothy pints, fried food, and griddled meat parts, let’s keep learning from our less coordinated cave dwellers and really whip up flames with some decent food coming out of the kitchen.