Serving consistent, reliable food is what consumers are looking for and the classic dishes they know and love are a sure-fire way to keep them coming back.
While the healthy food trend remains a hot topic, the classics are definitely still on the menu according to the latest food statistics.
Top five pub breakfasts
■ Full English
■ Sweet toast
■ Savoury bagel
There is a growing preference for a full English at breakfast, fish and chips at lunch and steak and beef burgers for dinner, the MCA Eating Out Panel Quarterly 2017 report states.
Two thirds of breakfast dishes consumed in a pub are the full English, after a four percentage point rise since last year.
At lunch, there has been a rise in consumers eating fish and chips in the pub and it is now the number one dish at this meal time, overtaking roast dinners.
Steak and beef burgers have gained popularity for pub dinners, with the latter now more popular than roast meals.
As a result, pubs need to remember to keep the well-loved, traditional dishes in the forefront before experimenting with slightly more adventurous dishes.
Paul Berry from the Swan in Bampton, Devon said: “Our steak and kidney pudding is one of our staples. Customers love it even when it is bright and sunny outside. It reminds people, especially our older customers, of their mother’s cooking. People come to the pub specifically for this.
“Another one of our favourites, that must be on the Christmas menu every year, is the white chocolate and vanilla cheesecake with peanut butter ice cream, peanut praline and honeycomb.
“We even had people eat in other pubs and restaurants and then come here to have it for pudding. It has been one of those desserts that
people come back for time and again.
“Before we even ask customers if they are having pudding they shout cheesecake at us."
Top five pub lunches
■ Fish and chips
■ Roast dinner
■ Beef burger
■ Ice cream
He added: "Not only do we sell them in the pub but they are our top seller as a take-out meal too.
“People love a burger. We change ours and the locals are always excited when we post a new one on social media. It is one of those dishes that has now become part of the menu as much as our staples.
“It appeals to a younger crowd and is one of those dishes that make it OK to have a drink and eat without breaking the bank.”
Stosie Madi, the Parkers Arms in Clitheroe, Lancashire said: "You can’t beat a roast dinner, but we do not do beef roasts every Sunday – we make sure to mix it up with roast pork, pheasant and hogget (sheep aged one to two years).
“The other best-seller we have is steak. Eating a big chunk of meat is a bit of a decadent thing to do at home so they eat it out instead.
“Thirdly, we sell a lot of pie. We make everything from scratch, the pastry, the filling and the garnishes. We could not take it off our menu because it is so traditional. Customers associate the pub with pie.
“People come in and ask us about the pie so we could not get away with not having it on the menu. If you don’t have those three dishes on their menus, it really can be a numbers killer.”
Rob Allcock, the Longs Arms in South Wraxall, Wiltshire said: “Since we opened, we have smoked everything on-site for use in the pub and to take away. The only thing that has been constantly on our menu since day one is salmon.
“It is from Wester Ross in Scotland and is a really great, artisan product, which is slowly dry-cured then slowly smoked over oak and apple.
“Customers really appreciate the quality of our salmon and any of the other meat, fish and dairy we smoke.
“Our offal, from tripe to our home-made faggots, is a top seller. This is because no one else around us cooks offal.
“We get the old boys coming in, complaining that their wives refuse to cook it for them so they come and see us."
Top five pub dinners
■ Beef burger
■ Roast dinner
■ Fish and chips
■ Ice cream
He added: “Also, no one around us seems to be cooking amazing quality crab and lobster. We get customers pre-ordering 2kg crabs or big lobsters just for them to work their way through.
“We can’t kill, cook and prepare crab quick enough to keep up with demand.”
Jesse Dunford Wood, Parlour in Kensal Green, north-west London said: “For mains, our best-selling dishes are McTucky’s popcorn chicken nuggets; chicken Kiev; chestnut hummous with rosemary pitta bread; and cow pie.
“For puddings, it is DTC’s salted caramel chocolate Rolos and Arctic roll are our mainstays and best-sellers.
“They are dishes that are familiar, reliable and hearty. I love being in the pub environment because of the breadth of its custom base. It is not exclusive in any way.
“You have to ensure dishes are going to be appropriate for kids and adults. For old and young people, rich and not-so-rich customers. Make sure it is inclusive.”
John Calton, the Staith House in North Shields, Tyne and Wear said: "We sell a lot of fish and chips, especially at lunch times so that is always a winner. We are located on a fish quay so it is synonymous with the area.
“A good Sunday roast dinner is always very popular. Another meat-based dish we must have is steak and chips.
“We have always got really good-quality sirloin or rib eye because when customers come to the pub, they should be able to get a good steak.
“Some sort of pie is also a fixture on the menu. It is an old classic but if you make nice pastry and you buy good filling, it is great.
“Pubs should also offer a good bowl of soup that changes throughout the seasons.
“These staple dishes are important because they represent nostalgia mixed with a treat. They are classics for a reason – because they stand the test of time.”