Trish Hilferty was (and perhaps still is?) chef at London's legendary gastropub, The Eagle. She's the first to tell you that she doesn't like the "gastropub" name, since she believes that such restaurant-pubs are "what a pub should be" rather than a different category. However, the author also acknowledges that the term makes an easy soundbyte for pubs that give full attention to the quality of the food. Such places are meant to be casual and affordable.
And, of course, all the 150 dishes here are meant to be accompanied with a pint of ale.
You won't be surprised by any of the recipes here. They're all comfort food, in a British bar-food sort of way. This isn't the place for Thai-Moroccan fusion; it's a cookbook in which you can find a dependable recipe for cottage pie, or sausage and bean casserole, or a ploughman's lunch.
The recipes themselves are, first and foremost, very well written. These are all designed for an attentive cook to throw together in a bar kitchen, so few of them have any fussy steps and they're all very forgiving. You could make most of them on a weeknight, and the rest (such as a pot roast) on a lazy weekend afternoon.
Most dishes are very traditional, from devilled kidneys, to Scotch Eggs, to Lancashire Hot Pot, to Rhubarb and Apple Crumble. But plenty of them aren't predictable old standards. There's grilled chicken, fennel and lemon salad; papparedelle with peas and broad beans; chilled tomato and basil soup. Nothing exotic, in other words, but pretty darned good eating (and where's that pint of India Pale Ale)?
Chapters are devoted to soups; on toast; starters; pasta and risotto; fish; meat grills; meat roasts; meat braises; bar meals; bar snacks; puddings; and "bits and pieces" (which include tartar sauce and harissa).
This is a British cookbook, with only a few nods given to us Americans. There's a glossary in the beginning of the book (to translate "beetroot" to "beets" and "swede" to "rutabega"), and metric/imperial conversion tables, so most cooks won't have a problem. Some of the ingredients may be a little hard to find, unless you have a good gourmet market nearby; the recipe for Welsh Rarebit (in the On Toast) section calls for caerhilly, a UK cheese that's made with real ale, instead of the more common (US) recipes which call for cheddar. Some of the fish may not be available in your area and you'll need to substitute. But these recipes are good enough to make you want to make the effort to do so.
Most recipes have photos of the finished dish, though a few are of pub-stuff (such as the menu scrawled on a blackboard). I know that matters to some people, and these are nicely done.
VERY nice book, highly recommended.