The Best and Worst Food and Drink Trends of 2017
Before we look ahead to what 2018 may have in store for restaurant fanatics, let’s cast our minds back over the trends we’ve enjoyed and endured throughout 2017. That’s right guys, it’s time for a seasonal round-up. Enjoy!
This year saw a flurry of new seafood restaurant openings. We were wowed by ham croquettes stained black with cuttlefish ink at Westerns Laundry and went potty for prawns at new Covent Garden wine bar Parsons. Prawn on the Lawn upgraded to a larger site, Trawler Trash tried to make unfashionable fish fun and Gilly battered everything and deep fried it. The Oystermen started slinging their wares on Henrietta Street and Wright Brothers expanded to Battersea Power Station. What’s behind this sudden surge of seafood? Perhaps Londoners have finally had enough of steak and burgers… (unlikely).
Live Fire Cooking
The trend for live fire cooking showed no signs of extinguishing in 2017 as Londoners threw their money at smoked beef ribs at temper City, skewered chicken hearts at Smoking Goat Shoreditch and grilled flatbreads at Smoke and Salt. We’ve really begun to embrace the whole world of barbecue now, not just the low and slow American variety (although that’s obviously great too).
Vegetable and Plant-Based Menus
More people than ever are choosing a vegetarian or vegan diet, and many of those who do eat meat now choose to consume less. We’ve seen lots of openings that reflect this trend over the last year, from pulled jackfruit tacos at Club Mexicana joining the ranks of London’s best, to tofush replacing fish with chips at Normans Coach and Horses in Soho and the surge in vegan Italian food. December saw a collaboration between Gizzi Erskine and Tate called Pure Filth, a ‘healthy junk food’ pop up with plant-based burgers, juices and nourishing sides. It went down a storm.
Can a trend be driven by just one man? Calum Franklin has had a banger of a year over at The Holborn Dining Room, where he’s risen from curious pastry fancier to full-on star. He gained fame for his pate en croute on Instagram and from there began producing all manner of perfect pies. Now, he has a dedicated pie room, which will open to the public for orders in the new year. A proliferation of pastry Instagram accounts have since come to the fore, and we expect this one to continue well into 2018 as more chefs compete to make the best pies in London.
High End Indian Restaurants
As much as we love heading over to Whitechapel for a pile of sizzling lamb chops at Lahore Kebab House or Tayyabs, there’s a new style of spicing in town. For a while it seemed London’s high-end Indian offering wouldn’t extend beyond the excellent Trishna, Cinnamon Kitchen and the like but recently there’s been a burst of openings, including Bombay Bustle and Jamavar (both under the guidance of Rohit Ghai, formerly of Trishna and Gymkhana), plus Gul and Sepoy and Madame D, both from the guys behind Gunpowder. The latest arrival is Indian Accent, on the same street as Gymkhana in Mayfair. What’s more, these restaurants are serving dishes with a distinct regional focus – very exciting news for the future direction of Indian cuisine in the capital.
Low and No-Alcohol Drinks
This was the year that bars and restaurants really started to make an effort with low and no-alcohol drinks and producers quickly got in on the action. Seedlip has been around for a few years now but we’ve seen loads more of it in 2017 – a distilled, non-alcoholic spirit, it contains various botanicals and can be enjoyed with tonic, like gin. Head to the newly opened, so-hip-it-hurts Cub to try it.
It was once something used for lighting the barbecue or sketching a dodgy nude in life-drawing class. Now, charcoal is turning up in your dinner, leaving its grubby mark on menus all through 2017. Pizzicotto on Kensington High Street served a charcoal pizza crust, saying ‘research suggests it aids digestion, absorbs toxins and helps lower cholesterol’. Well, research may well suggest that charcoal has some of those properties but in a pizza crust? Not a chance. We won’t bother mentioning the counter-effects of eating the pizza in the first place. Oh, we just did.
How do you make a food unicorn-themed? Stick a heap of multi-coloured stuff on it and whack up the price. We’ve seen unicorn freak shakes at Maxwell’s in Covent Garden, ‘unicone’ ice creams at Milk Train and unicorn ‘poop’ at Cereal Killer Cafe, which is basically the London food trend equivalent of the Death Star – a powerful epicentre of trend-evil. What’s the point of this unicorn nonsense? Instagram.
Outrageous Photography in Restaurants
Now don’t get us wrong – we do not judge you here at Just Opened London. We believe that as long as you’re not rude or, you know, completely taking the piss in a restaurant then you can pretty much snap away as you please. We have witnessed some exceptional behaviour in the past year, however, involving requests to adjust lighting, taking food outside into natural light and bringing in lighting rigs to set up above the table. Is it ever ok? This question inspired us to start a restaurant problem page, where we asked industry experts exactly that. The consensus? Don’t be a pain in the butt.