Kupros: What exactly is a “gastropub”?

Serious, traditional poutine, north of the border.

Kupros, if you haven’t heard, is the new restaurant on 21st Street between Capitol and L. It’s a beautiful update of the building that used to house Cheap Thrills used clothing store. Kupros labels itself as a gastropub, which brings with a it a whole host of connotations. But first, what is a gastropub?

The agreed upon definition of a gastropub is: a pub that specializes in finer than average food. That’s pretty much it, but that’s not really it. Here are some of the connotations, fair or unfair, that come along with the label: beer, wine, European focus, ridiculously good simple food, grease, gravy, low-lighting, wood panelling, classic design, plain paper menus, and edgy chefs with beards and striped aprons.

Wonderfully, Kupros hits on almost every one of the connotations that comes with being a gastropub. The food was pretty darned good, with some homeruns and a few infield singles. The potted rabbit (part of the charcuterie plate) was ridiculously phenomenal. We all made satisfying carnivore noises while crunching it’s meat between our canines. Even the ladies at the table who swore they would never eat a creature so cute inhaled the little bunny like doughnuts at a cop shop.

The famed, legendary, fabled poutine (the preferred dish of French Canada) was tasty, but underwhelming when compared to expectations. Here were my expectations: a giant pile of fries topped with cheese curd and smothered with a meat-rich gravy. What I got: a small serving of fries topped with a few dollops of aforementioned cheese curd, and topped with a (undoubtedly delicious) mound of braised oxtail. Yummy? Sure. But Kupros might do better to put a bit more love into the gravy side of things, as I think most folks are with me on the “gravy is good” bandwagon.

Also, as far as the beverages go, a theme might help organize the drinks. When I think gastropub, I think unique, hearty beers and wines. What they’re offering is a little haphazard, eclectic and hit-and-miss. I’d suggest going for an emphasis on Belgian brews, or Czech brews, or California-made brews, or hard to find Midwest microbrews, or something that the beer loving consumer like myself can hang his hat on (even though I don’t wear hats (I don’t have the head or the hair or the personality for it)).

Good news: Kupros is just a few tweaks away from being outstanding. Bad news: places like Shady Lady, Golden Bear, and Samuel Horne’s will be trying to get themselves labelled as gastropubs to get in on the action. Not too much of a downside all in all.

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4 thoughts on “Kupros: What exactly is a “gastropub”?”

  1. I second a focus on either west coast craft beer and or hard to find mid west craft beer. we already have several locations that focus on Belgian styled beers, or with many on a bottle list (pangea, shack and burgers and brews). What greater downtown doesn’t have is a location with a focus on craft beer like a Manderes or Samuel Horne’s in Folsom (both are excellent).

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  2. Thanks for the tip. I hadn’t heard about this place before.

    Though I’m looking at a bit of a blurry photo on Yelp of their brews, and I gotta say they went pretty Cali-centric (Lost Abbey, Stone, Mad River, North Coast, Lagunitas, Bear Republic, Green Flash, Fox Barrel, Mendocino).

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  3. Wife and I were having a rare night out together on Sat, and wanted a drink and a snack before visiting some galleries. Kupros was perfect for this. I guess Saturday was day 1 or 2 of their soft opening.

    Tap selection was pretty good… but yeah more is always better. They had some very interesting appetizers – I recall fried pickles. We had a 3 selection cheese plate, and they let us pick the 3 cheeses. Bartenders were friendly and social, which to me is a bigger deal than if they have a particular Belgian ale on hand.

    The place looks great on the inside. Very homey and comfortable, no TV’s (yeah), and a big wraparound bar. If any complaint here, it looks like the money got tight near the end of the project and light fixtures had to be sourced from the bargain bin at Home Depot. This stood out since the rest of the interior was finished so well.

    The upstairs dining area has an already popular balcony seating area over-looking 21st St wtih a clear view down the alley of the setting sun. The back of the updstairs dining area can be divided into a separate banquet area, which is cool.

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  4. Went there for lunch today, and found out it’s only open for dinner. Kinda awkward, servers were there, chefs were cooking, doors were open, but no one greeted us and it took me wandering back into the kitchen to find out it was closed.
    Looks great though, and the menu and tap selection look like fun.

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