Back in the day, when a couple of guys named Harry and Gary opened the first British Beer Company in 1997, the term “craft beer” was only used by seriously-into-beer types and serving classic English pub food was nearly unheard of in these parts.
Fast-forward 20 years and every Tom, Dick and Harry (sorry, Harry!) is waxing philosophical about hops ratio and mouth weight, and pub food somehow morphed into comfort food and became so the thing to serve in restaurants.
It was time for the BBC to change things up. And so we did.
“We’d been serving the same menu, with a couple of swaps each season, and what started out as different had become commonplace,” said James Gibney, executive chef for the British Beer Company. “We needed to differentiate the BBC from the rest of the world so we decided to revamp the menu.”
After speaking with managers at each local pub, James and Karl Mussman, our food purchasing manager, sat down with notable chefs from throughout the region and kicked around ideas. And they hit on something pretty cool.
While we’ve long had in-depth info about where each of the craft beers we serve is brewed, the same couldn’t be said of our food.
“People want to know where their food comes from,” said James of what he sees as a trend that has likely been brought about by social media and the Food Network. “They also want healthier, trending items,” he added.
Our former companywide menu has now been replaced by three regional menus which were created to take advantage of locally-available ingredients, as well as to appeal to customers in each of the regions of Southern New England where our pubs are located.
It only makes sense that Jean the fisherwoman on Cape Cod doesn’t have the same taste as John the builder in Danvers, right?
The menus include not only local produce, when seasonally available, but locally-sourced deli meats – from Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions in Waltham – which are used in our Reuben, and the cured meat and cheese board, a new item that’s proving especially popular.
Bread is delivered daily from Pain D’Avignon, the renowned Hyannis Bakery, and much of our produce is sourced from Sid Wainer & Son and Dole & Bailey. If these purveyors haven’t grown the produce we purchase on their own farms – Sid Wainer has a huge one – they’ve purchased it from local farms and they provide us with the names of them. We then make this info available to our customers.
While we still have a lot of classic British pub food and comfort food items on the menu, you’ll also find “…healthier, cleaner dishes with different flavors,” as James put it, like tuna sashimi with grilled pineapple-raisin relish, and blistered shishito peppers with crunchy corn and Cotija cheese.
True, the new menus are a change, but as James sees it, “We’re going back to our roots as a local British pub. Local pubs need local beers and local ingredients,” he said.
The dude should know what’s what when it comes to legit British pubs. He’s from the U.K. and went to culinary school at the Colchester Institute’s School of Catering.
Locally-sourced pub food; pretty cool, isn’t it?