A British public house (pub) transformed in the early 1990s into a "sort-of-a-restaurant" without the overheads and pretence within the confines of a pub, and the term Gastropub was born.
Yet since those heady days The Eagle, for which the pioneering pub is named, remained a beacon for a whole new style of food that had totally transformed the eating out market in England and thus further afield. Gone are the days when it was a sandwich and a packet of crisps if you were in a pub, as with a gastropub you could also enjoy a high-quality meal - even up to a Michelin star-rated standard - in a more relaxed, pub restaurant surrounding.
This book takes a number of recipes from the "original gastropub" into the home kitchen and after a very short introduction and background it is straight to the recipes with a good bowl of soup. A real cook's cook book indeed.
Each section is introduced with a brief explanation of The Eagle's philosophy but it is clear that the dishes (in the form of recipes) are king. It is interesting to see how relatively simple ingredients are combined to make rather pleasing, attractively-looking (and no doubt nice tasting) dishes too.
Simplicity can still be stylish and if one looks, for example, at the dish "Pea with Chorizo and Poached Egg", one sees a simple Portuguese soup recipe that is transformed to a filling supper in its own right. Even without the egg one would have had a nice soup, yet who would have necessarily thought of poaching an egg and adding it to a soup-based dish? Though once you've started going through this book you cannot fail to get your own ideas for inspiration and adaptation of other dishes.
Salads, meals on toast (toasted bread), eggs for dinner, pasta, rice, fish, meat and side dishes are also well represented through their own chapters, each full of rather inspirational dishes that just make you want to get into the kitchen and make your own dish. Many wonderful full page images help make the recipes effectively "leap out the page" - for example the Cut seared Beef Salad looks so tasty and lifelike that you could be forgiven for absent-mindedly reaching out to the book to pick up a sliver of meat!
Each recipe provides a complete ingredients' list and then the instructions are clearly, yet concisely, provided. It is not a step-by-step hand-holding guide per se, so the absolute beginner might struggle or feel unsure, yet you do not need to be a professional chef in order to be able to follow these instructions. Of course, if you burn a sauce or overcook your meat that still remains your fault.
You could live like a king for quite a time on this book alone - feeling that you are eating "good, honest food" rather than one is sitting in a five star "posh" restaurant. This is not a criticism of the book and its recipes but, in fact, a positive reflection over how good, honest food can be of a very high calibre whilst remaining true to its roots.