In 1991, Michael Belben and David Eyre looked around their native London and asked themselves, why does pub food have to be frozen and of poor quality, why can’t a pub produce high quality food with fresh ingredients without losing its identity? A food revolution had begun.
This simple idea has spread from the small neighbourhood of Clerkenwell, to the rest of London, then England and finally the world. But somewhere along the way the concept was convoluted and warped into something almost unrecognizable. Now the term “gastropub” is bandied about by restauranteurs across the globe, but the core of its meaning seems to have been lost as restaurants with dark oak bars and wooden tables have been popping up all over the world and calling themselves gastropubs. People have forgotten that you can’t spell gastropub without pub. In the words of David Eyre “never forget it’s a pub”.
The Bishop & Bagg has no intentions or pretensions of labeling itself a gastropub, or anything else for that matter. The Bishop and Bagg is, as our young chef so eloquently put it, “a pub with great food”. The cuisine is not traditional British, but rather country pub inspired, hearty and made with the best ingredients. The drink is simply, what we love to drink.
For over five years now, The Burgundy Lion Group has been striving to bring a little part of Britain to Montreal, first through the Burgundy Lion Pub and more recently with our homage to the “chippy“, BRIT & CHIPS. In the U.K. the demise of the independent, traditional pub has been widely publicized and publicly mourned. The Bishop & Bagg endeavours to rage against this tragic symptom of globalization as an authentic, locally owned and proudly independent English Pub.
“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn“
- Samuel Johnson
Monsignor Ignace Bourget was Bishop of Montreal from 1840 to 1876. He was instrumental in the city’s growth and the growth of the Roman Catholic church in Quebec. In 1841, Bourget travelled to France and other parts of Europe in order to recruit missionaries to the new world. His invitation to establish missions in Montreal was accepted by various religious groups, Notably, the Clerics of St-Viator, the namesake of St-Viateur Street. Ironically in 1853, Monsignor Bourget also founded the Annales de la tempérance, a society dedicated to the goal of temperance.
Stanley Clark Bagg was a notary, large landowner and justice of the peace in the mile-end neighbourhood of Montreal in the mid-19th century. He was a philanthropist who founded the “English Workingmen’s Benefit Society” which supported hundreds of local families. He donated many of his lands to the city, including the land that is now Jarry Park. Bagg died in his family’s manor house, Fairmount, in 1873. The city of Montreal remembered him by naming three streets in his honour, Fairmount, Bagg and of course Clark, the cross street of the pub.