Eating and drinking in London: 2012 preview
The new restaurants and gastronomic trends heading to London this year
We’re not talking frozen yogurt or bubble teas, we’re talking about the real icing on the cake. Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social restaurant showed us the simple but brilliant idea of having a dedicated pudding bar – already a huge trend in other leading culinary cities around the world, especially New York – where you can enjoy a stellar dessert without paying the full cost of a three-course meal at the restaurant. Even more impressive in some ways is William Curley’s dessert bar in Pimlico, one of the few dedicated places in London where you can pop in just for intricate sweet creations; it’s just a shame they don’t open past supper. We love the proliferation of gelaterias and ice cream shops available to sate the post-prandial sweet tooth, so we’re hoping the success of Pollen Street Social and William Curley will be followed by others.
In recent weeks Corbin & King, the dynamic duo who revived The Ivy (then sold it) and currently run The Wolseley and The Delaunay, have announced that they are taking over the former site of The Atlantic Bar & Grill, one of the most glamorous cocktail bars and restaurants of the ’90s, and will be relaunching it as Brasserie Zédel. if we know anything at all about Corbin and King, we can be sure this will be a quality act, quite likely one of the highlights of the coming year. They are also relaunching the former Oriel site on Sloane Square, and have a hotel project in the pipeline.
Third-pint measures in pubs
No, not a third pint (after the first two), but a third-of-a-pint. The law has been clear for decades that draught beer in pubs can only be sold in half-pint or pint measures, which was fine and good in the days when we drank a pint of mild with our Woodbine cigarette at the bar. These days, however, the brews are stronger – 4 per cent alcohol by volume is not unusual – and there are many Belgian ales, as well as a growing number of craft ales from the US, and even the UK, which are remarkably potent. Beer enthusiasts, like wine enthusiasts, often only want a small measure so they can try a beer before moving on to a different brew, to compare and contrast. In autumn 2011, the law changed, making third-of-a-pint measures legal. We’re delighted that some of London’s leading beer purveyors - such as Draft House, or Mason & Taylor – are now offering the option. More small beer, please.
After udon, a ramen revolution
Noodle enthusiasts – us included – have always bemoaned the lack of great ramen in the city, pacified only slightly by the efforts of Koya restaurant and their dedication to perfecting a humble bowl of udon. But come 2012, we can expect at least one ramen-ya, opened by the people behind Tsuru – the restaurant that brought katsu curry into the mainstream. In recent weeks, even Roka have quietly begun testing the waters by launching Ramen Mondays at their moody Shochu Lounge. We suspect there will be plenty more ramen ca-noodling to come in the new year.
Every year there’s some kind of sweet trend – we’ve already seen cupcakes, whoopie pies and macarons come and go. What next? With St John Bakery at Maltby Street sending food foragers into a frenzy in the summer of 2011 with their fresh custard doughnuts, and Hawksmoor introducing their breakfast marmalade doughnut, we reckon these pillowy deep-fried treats will be on more restaurant menus come 2012. Just the thing to tempt anyone out of the annual post-Christmas and New Year detox.
Nuno Mendes at Fitzroy House
Nuno Mendes is a chef who can’t stay still – after opening Viajante (which incidentally, translates as ‘traveller’ in Portuguese) and then The Corner Room, the man decided to lend a hand to the wildly popular Long Table night market in Dalston’s Abbot Street. Rumour has it that Mendes now plans to open another restaurant in March 2012, on the same stretch of road as the Long Table, at Fitzroy House (a space owned by The Bootstrap Company, creators of The Long Table). With his track record for whipping up offbeat dishes in super-stylish surrounds, we’re marking this down as one to watch closely.
More night markets
Over the summer of 2011 we were glad to see Red Market open in Shoreditch, a proper late-night food market similar to the the sort of thing you will find all over Asia. It closed after a few weeks when the licence was revoked. Then, during December, we saw the Long Table taking off in Dalston, with huge queues of hipsters standing in the cold to get their slice of Yum Buns with kimchi slaw, fat-soaked roast potatoes or, of course, beer and burgers. Bermondsey Square is the setting of the latest night market, called StockMKT, which ran for one night during December and has more planned for the New Year.
Pitt Cue Co. returns with more BBQ, bourbon and beer
The Pitt Cue Co. barbecue food truck rolled up to the South Bank in the summer of 2011, and pulled its last pork in the early days of autumn. But they're coming back and – in the style of roving food van Meatwagon – putting down roots in a permanent central London venue. They'll be located at the former site of Canela, just off Carnaby Street. Expect plenty of barbecue meat treats, from beef cheeks to pulled pork.