I railed a wee bit about originality being a quality that fades over time last week, especially after you have been mercilessly copied by all and sundry. The issue occurred to me again when we popped into The Eagle on Farringdon Road on Saturday. The Eagle is considered to have been the first gastropub, and is still going strong now. But as the first surely other of its ilk have improved on its basic innovation.

Honestly? The Eagle struck me as one of the best gastropubs I have been to. Not just because of the top notch food, but partially due to the rough and ready feel of the place. Other gastropubs may have taken the template and toyed with the surroundings, The Eagle still feels firmly like a pub. Albeit a pub where huge gashes of flame are as common on the back bar as bottles of whiskey (hmm, dangerous combination that). Other gastropubs have gone for stripped pine, nicely order table, matching furniture. The Eagle has a maze of tables which are pretty tricky for the waiters to negotiate (and considering he won’t get a tip the effort is appreciated). Not too many fancy beers, and the drink prices are reasonable. The food prices are not super cheap, but the food is good. And actually I would be a bit suspicious if I was paying less than a tenner for a sirloin steak anyway.

The Eagle prides itself on simple, gutsy food. ie Food best paired with a pint. Like its sister the Anchor & Hope (but slightly less poncey) it doles out quality food in a nice open kitchen than you enjoy the smells from (the pot roast chicken which replaced the steak that the ladies on our table had all eaten up smelled lovely). The secret I suppose is that later gastropubs have tried to maximize profit by giving people what they think they want. What they think they want is not a pub at all, rather a British kind of brasserie. But the pub bit of the gastropub is the key to the Eagle’s success.