These days I'm more inclined to go for a meal to a pub that does good food, rather than a restaurant. One of the main reasons for this is the matter of beer. I believe that a good glass of draught bitter is better with a fair number of foods - red meat, game, pies, sausages, offal - than pretty well any wine. Yet most restaurants simply don't serve decent beer. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Snobbery. It's considered beneath them to serve beer. I blame William the Conqueror - when the Normans invaded they introduced a class differential between wine and beer that has stuck to this day. And, of course, many restaurants have a continental European influence, and their idea of beer is lager (which itself is fine with many foods, but not in the same league).
- Ignorance. Your average wine waiter hasn't a clue about decent draught beers, and certainly wouldn't know how to keep one. Your best hope in most restaurants is a good bottled beer. But with bitter, the difference between a bottled beer and the stuff from a barrel is like the difference between wine from a box and wine from a bottle. These people, who sensibly wouldn't give a wine box room, are serving the equivalent in beer.
- Mark up. My suspicion is that this is the big one. Even in a seriously over-priced restaurant, it's hard to charge more than about £4 for a pint of beer. Wine can range from maybe £10 to £500 a bottle. Are they going to provide beer if they can get away without it? Nope.