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Rob Greig

A gravy fountain, blobfish and deep-fried everything: the year in London pop-ups

By
Isabelle Aron
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It seemed like barely a week went by this year without someone announcing that they were planning to open a niche pop-up in London. We've looked back at the good, the bad and, er, the ones that never materialised – here's everything we've learned.

Londoners love animals 

The cat café may have been big in 2014, but this year London branched out from feline-themed fun. Back in May we were all squealing for joy over the pop-up pignic, where you could play with cute newborn piglets, sip on piggy-themed cocktails and feast on high welfare food (although they operated a strict no ham sandwiches policy). The pop-up owl bar also opened its doors, but managed to ruffle a few feathers in the process, as not everyone loved the idea of mixing drunk people with birds of prey. In the end, they decided it was probably best to avoid any drunken antics around the owls and opted not to serve alcohol at the event.

As if that wasn't enough, Britain's first pop-up restaurant for dogs opened in London. And yes, it was exactly what it sounds like – a dinner party for posh pooches. The dogs were treated to a five-course meal – which included a dessert of cinnamon quinoa dog biscuits – while the rest of us were probably at home and eating a one-course meal of pesto pasta.

Londoners also love hammering nails into stuff 

Dustin Gaffke

Just when we thought London's pop-ups couldn't get any more niche, a pop-up Hammerschlagen bar opened in Stoke Newington. What the heck is Hammerschlagen, you ask? It's a German game that involves hammering nails into tree trunks in as few whacks as you can manage. Presumably they came up with it before the internet. The aim of the game is to beat the barman (in the game, not with the hammer) so that you can knock some money off your bar tab and get hammered yourself. 

There's no food that isn't improved by deep-fat frying

Rob Greig

It's a well-known fact that all food tastes better once you've dipped it in batter and deep fried the hell out of it. Don't believe us? Let's reminisce about Fryhard – the Easter pop-up that served up over 100 deep-fried items including fondant fancies, Creme Eggs, doughnuts, battenberg cakes, muffins and – our personal favourite – a whole leg of lamb. 

Drinking wine out of a box can be classy 

B.I.B/Weino

Thought boxed wine was just for festivals? Think again. This pop-up helped boxed wine shake off its bad rep and prove that booze doesn't need to come out of a bottle to be fancy.

Gravy fountains are a thing

Technically this pop-up was all about roast potatoes, but what's a plate of roasties without gravy? Dry, that's what. Luckily, they pulled out all the stops with a gravy fountain, so there was no need for fighting over the last drop in the gravy jug.

It was a good year for getting high

Well, sort of. A 'Breaking Bad'-style pop-up bar set up shop in an RV (naturally), where you could 'cook' your own cocktails. Although crystal meth was not on the menu, which was probably for the best. Elsewhere, Cannabistro – London's first weed-themed pop-up restaurant – opened its doors, with a food offering that was light on actual weed and heavy on the hemp. Mmm, hemp.

And let's not forget about the pop-ups that never were. What ever happened to these whacky ideas?

The jungle cat café

Okay, we said London was done with cats – we lied. Everyone got really excited this summer when we heard that London was getting another cat café, but now it's December and we're still waiting. What gives? We spoke to Ginger & Tom's founder, Anna Kogan Nasser, who said that they'd been 'gazumped' by a higher bidder on the property. But they're still planning to open eventually. Until then, we'll have to make do with just the one cat café in London. 

The blobfish café

Proving that no animal is too ugly to have a pop-up café devoted to it, back in June we heard that a blobfish café was coming to London. It was originally meant to open in North Acton, but they also had some technical problems with the venue and pushed the opening date until summer 2016. But will it ever materialise? We contacted them asking for an update and so far they've remained suspiciously quiet. Sure, it might still open next year... but we're calling bullshit.

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