Grilled steak is Britain’s favourite pub dish, eight per cent of pub-goers are prepared to pay over £25 on dinner, excluding drinks, 65 per cent say they would like more pubs to have quiet areas free from music and TV.

Brits’ growing love of pub grub is plating up success for the pub industry. According to new research from Mintel, sales of pub meals grew by an estimated 14 per cent between 2012 and 2016 to reach £7.4 billion. In the same time period, sales of alcoholic drinks grew by 6 per cent, while soft drink sales rose by 7 per cent.

Indeed, it’s increasingly likely that pub punters will be there for the food. In 2016, 23 per cent of consumers said they had visited a pub in the past month because of the high quality of food on offer; while in 2017 this had risen to 30 per cent. Currently, 69 per cent of pub-goers say that one of the most important factors that would make them choose one pub over another is high-quality food, while one in six (16 per cent) who visit pubs or bars to eat say they would go especially to try a new menu.

Further showing that plates trump pints on pub-goers’ wish lists, a heady 89 per cent of Brits say they typically visit a pub or bar to eat, compared to 79 per cent who go to drink in these venues.

Overall, UK pub industry turnover grew by an estimated 8 per cent between 2012 and 2016 to reach £23.5 billion. In 2016, alcoholic drinks made up half of UK pub industry turnover, compared to 31 per cent brought in by catering.

Richard Caines, Senior Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Pubs that generate a higher proportion of sales from food and, as a result, attract a wider audience have generally performed more strongly than drink-led pubs. This was reflected in sales of meals through pubs recording stronger growth than alcoholic drinks in 2016. Sales of meals in pubs have benefited from an ongoing move in the pubs market towards more food-led venues and efforts to improve quality and to expand and update menus across price points. The pub catering market has also benefited from an increase in the average spend per visit. The trend towards all-day dining, including the development of breakfasts in pubs, is another contributor to increased sales.”

Looking into the battle for the UK’s favourite pub dish, it’s steak that tops the menu. 20 per cent Brits say that grilled steak is their favourite pub dish, narrowly pipping roast dinners (19 per cent), burgers (15 per cent) and fish and chips (14 per cent) to the top spot. Falling flat, however, just 3 per cent say beef wellington or sausage and mash is their best of the bar meals respectively. What’s more, giving a new meaning to ‘getting pie-eyed’ at the pub, 5 per cent say pie is their favourite pub dish.

And it seems that many pub-goers aren’t afraid to splash the case on pub fayre, over three in five (63 per cent) are prepared to pay over £10 for dinner at a pub (excluding drinks), with 18 per cent happy to spend between £15-£19.99, 10 per cent say they are comfortable paying between £20-24.99 and eight per cent are prepared to splash out over £25.

While pub grub has not held the reputation of a fine dining destination in the past, today, Brits have high estimations of what they expect from public house cuisine. Almost half (45 per cent) of pub-goers say that they would be put off ordering a particular dish at a pub or bar that wasn’t freshly made and one in 10 say that they wouldn’t like to order a dish that does not fit the image of a pub or bar. Looking to the future, 69 per cent would be interested in seeing pub or bar dishes which are made with premium ingredients.

Trish Caddy, Foodservice Analyst at Mintel, said:

“When it comes to food, it is not just about venues using premium ingredients, but also creating standout menu options that customers have come to expect, such as build-your-own dishes, set menus and a wider range of healthy options. Value-for money gastropubs are currently fuelling the pub sector, but looking to the future there is a growing appetite among pub-goers for more premium offerings.”

Finally, it seems that pubs might be going back to their old-school ways. 65 per cent pub-goers say they would like more pubs to have quiet areas free from music and TV. Meanwhile, many still value table service; 61 per cent of pub-goers say that table service makes an evening more special, while 75 per cent say it’s important for waiting staff to be able to explain the menu.