Tag Archives: pub

What Is A Carvery?

A Carvery Is A Very British Thing

Most British pubs these days offer a selection of food to entice visitors through the door, and many also offer a Carvery, because a roast dinner is something that is always popular in the UK.

While many visitors to the UK from overseas might expect there to be pubs everywhere, they might be amazed at the number of foreign restaurants that the country has, especially Indian restaurants, which number in their thousands.

The good old English “Pub” (which is short for “Public House”), used to traditionally be a place where men from the community would go in order to drink beer and gossip over the latest news. However, in the last 30 years, with the drink/driving laws becoming ever stricter and with pubs losing business as a result, plus with people now being able to access news and events via television, radio and more recently social media, the traditional pubs have been forced to change or as has happened with many, they have ended up closing their doors.

Over the last 25-30 years many pubs started to offer food to entice people to visit,  most offering fairly simple food, with typical English fare such as:

  • Ploughman’s Lunch – fresh bread, cheese, salad, pickled onions, relish
  • Cottage Pie – minced beef and vegetables in gravy, baked with a topping of mashed potato
  • Shepherds Pie – same as Cottage Pie but made with minced lamb
  • Steak and Kidney Pie – chunks of steak and kidney in gravy in a pastry crust
  • Toad In The Hole – Yorkshire Pudding cooked with sausages in in, usually served with mashed potato and gravy
  • Lasagne – layers of pasta with bolognaise sauce and cheese

With increasing competition, and with the popularity of more exotic food, some then offered foreign dishes such as curries or other Indian meals, and others opened up full restaurants with a wide selection of meals. Others went in another direction, offering more American style dishes, like Chicken Wings, Burgers and Ribs.

Lately there is a new phenomenon, the “Gastro-Pub”, which is a type of pub that not only prides itself on it’s ales, but on the quality of it’s food. Here you will often find more up market cuisine, but at a price. It’s often “nouveau cuisine”, which to me means food that is attractively presented, costs 3 times as much, but leaves you hungry.

Many pubs are now either changing towards more English food, but a wider choice of offerings, or switching to include a Carvery, which is becoming more popular than ever.

So after that long pre-amble, back to the original question of “What Is A Carvery?”

A Carvery is the closest thing that you will get in England to a Sunday Roast, which used to be a tradition in most English households years ago.

An English Sunday Roast would usually be either Chicken, Beef, Lamb or Pork, served with Roast Potatoes, Roast Parsnips, Yorkshire Pudding (especially if Beef), Stuffing, and a selection of vegetables, usually 3 or more of the following seasonal vegetables, and served with thick brown gravy:

Brussel Sprouts
Cauliflower (often with a white or cheese sauce)
Leeks (often in a white or cheese sauce)
Swede (aka Rutabaga)

At the Carvery, customers form a queue to be served, and the chef carves for them the meat of their choice, usually from a choice of 3 types. If you want, you can have any 2 or all 3 kinds.

You then take your plate and help yourself to the vegetables and potatoes, and back to the table to enjoy it. A carvery meal really does go down well with a pint of good English Real Ale.

Unlike many buffets in the USA, many carveries in England only let you go back once, or if you can go up multiple times, it’s for the vegetables only. Prices for food are higher here in England, so to keep the prices down, they limit how much meat you can take. However, for most people, the amount you can get on one plate is adequate, even for me!

The price for a carvery meal varies, and so does the quality, but paying a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean a better meal. Prices vary from around £3.50 ($5) to £7.50 ($10), depending on the pub.


Personal experience


For New Years Eve we thought about going out somewhere, maybe a pub, but then we are often quite happy to head up to bed before midnight, and pubs on New Years Eve are full of loud drunken people in groups; it’s not so much fun for a couple on their own.   And so we decided to stay in, catch up on the web and watch television.  Boring maybe, but for us it was the best decision.

While I was working on putting the finishing touches together on this, our new blog, Debbie was catching up on the soaps and repeats of Only Fools And Horses.

Then somehow we ended up watching several episodes of shows about Haunted Britain, one about caves where the Hell Fire Club used to meet was quite creepy at times.  And then at Five To Midnight we switched channels to watch the New Year Celebrations in London.   Since I have spend my New Years in the USA since 1993, I have been out of touch with the celebrations somewhat, other than seeing the ball drop in Times Square in New York, which doesn’t quite have the same appeal to me.  This year, however, not only did I get to listen to Big Ben chime in the New Year, the firework display that was centred around the London Eye on the Embankment was spectacular.   I have seen some impressive firework displays before around the world, but this was so dazzling and bright it overloaded the television cameras at times and it went on for a full 15 minutes.   It’s just sad of course to think of the many thousands of pounds it cost, but it was a truly brilliant display.

Today being New Years Day we didn’t just want to do nothing.  We laid in quite late, blogged around a while, then about midday grabbed a bit to eat and went out to wash the car.  It had got quite dirty with all the rain in the last couple of months, and I was going to do it for Debbie earlier in the week, but it was absolutely frigid outside.  Today was milder though.  Still cold but bearable.  So we washed the car, then decided to go for a walk along the river.  The way we went took us for a good 3 mile trek along the river bank and up and around various woods and fields.  We passed several pubs along the way, and the smell of the food made us really hungry, but we pressed on regardless.  It was really nice, and helped us work up quite an appetite, which we satisfied with a nice warming Cottage Pie when we got back.

Right now we are just sitting catching up on all the HAPPY NEW YEAR messages on all the sites we subscribe to, and will maybe have an early night.  Maybe…