In the current trend terms, the chicken came before the egg, but the latter could have the last laugh if chef Neil Rankin has anything to do with it. Rankin’s new restaurant Bad Egg, in London’s Moorgate, will serve a cracking menu of egg recipes from Africa, Korea, Malaysia and Mexico. His place is not to be confused with The Good Egg, another ova-centric offer that will move from street food stall to permanent player early this year. We predict a scramble for tables at both places when they open.
The trend for better quality ‘fast-food’ has taken off in the US, leading to the term ‘fast-fine’, and you can bet it’s on its way here. In the US, Korean-American chef Roy Choi is teaming up with Michelin-starred Daniel Patterson to open a chain of fast-food restaurants called Loco’l. Over here, the casual-dining scene seems the next logical step for some of our best chefs. This includes James Knappett’s Bubbledogs, Mark Askew flipping burgers at Grill Shack and Heston’s The Perfectionists’ Cafe.
For those in central London, the delivery of high-quality restaurant food is already a reality but 2015 will be the year such services take off nationwide. The biggest hurdle is finding credible third parties that can help restaurants get food out to customers. Among the top ones are Deliveroo, Dinein.co.uk and Meals.co.uk
If the queues outside new Clerkenwell ‘babby’ Chifafa are anything to go by then premium kebabs (it serves chicken, lamb, veal, haloumi and falafel) are hotter than the chilli sauce that normally accompanies them. Do we hear the ‘pitta-patter’ of an approaching trend?
A clean slate for the plate
The sound of cutlery being dragged across slate has always been like nails on a blackboard to us, but we hope it will soon be a distant memory as restaurants finally bin the novelty tableware. Last year, chefs seemed unable to serve a side unless it was in some sort of quirky receptacle – think flower pots, mini-colanders, frying baskets and cocktail shakers – and pub companies ordered in several rain forests’ worth of difficult-to-clean wooden boards. But good old porcelain will reclaim its place on the table this year, just you watch.
Proper Mexican food
Wahaca has gone some way to improving the quality of Mexican food in this country, but more is yet to come. The catchily named ‘Year of Mexico in the UK and the UK in Mexico’, which takes place this year, will see some of Mexico’s greatest chefs come over here and show us how their cuisine is really done.
Paleolithic man and other healthy exploits
London’s first Paleolithic fine-dining restaurant, Pure Taste, opened in London’s Westbourne Grove late last year and the trend is expected to take off this year. The Paleo diet, or ‘the caveman’ diet, doesn’t involve eating with your hands and then wiping them on the tablecloth, but food groups generally consumed during the Paleolithic era; ie, one rich in protein and fibre and excluding dairy products, grains, legumes, processed oils and refined sugars.
And in the next 12 months, we will see more healthy restaurants crop up across the UK as low-calorie diets are given the heave-ho in favour of ones that will prove more approachable than the Atkins fad of old.
Leon, Itsu and Den are well placed to capitalise on this trend.
Overly creamy green curry and limp chicken satay is out; real Thai cooking in all its robust and pungent glory is in. Andy Oliver – who worked under David Thompson at the original Nahm in London and at Bo.Lan in Bangkok – has got East London hot under the collar with his fierily authentic Thai dishes. In London Fields, his pop-up restaurant Som Saa closes its doors this month but a permanent site seems likely. Smoking Goat in Soho, and The Begging Bowl in Peckham are also leading the Thai charge.
Ingredients and plats du jour
- Rotisseried vegetables - Move over chicken, it’s all about beetroot, cabbage and celeriac on the rotating grill.
- Cauliflower. This year’s kale?
- Red prawns - A contender for lobster’s crustacean crown
- Fermented vegetables - Where kimchi opened the door, now many more styles of fermented vegetable will follow
- Kalettes - What do you mean you’ve never hard of them? This kale/brussels sprouts hybrid will take the food world by storm in 2015. By storm, we tell you...
- Non-dairy milk - Almond milk in your coffee? Pistachio milk on your cereal? You bet.
Five areas to watch
South-east London is the place to be this year, with Lewisham in particular a destination to watch. Food events such as Street Feast in Model Market, an abandoned 1950s market off Lewisham High Street, are already creating a vibrant food scene and there’s more to come.
Great British Menu regular Kenny Atkinson’s House of Tides is helping put Newcastle on the gastronomic map at last. So is the £1.5m investment in St Mary’s Inn gastropub in the nearby village of Stannington, which has head chef Shaun Hurrell, who has worked with Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, at the helm.
Manchester’s food scene was given a fillip a few years back with the opening of Michelin star-aspiring restaurants Manchester House and The French. Now a second wave of newcomers will cement its status as a food hot spot. Red’s True Barbecue and Iberica are already there and Hawksmoor, Wahaca and Burger & Lobster are on their way.
London-by-Sea might finally live up to its name if the Soho House Group gets the green light to open a members club there, as well as its Pizza East, Chicken Shop and Dirty Burger brands. With Honest Burgers eyeing the seaside town as well and relative newbie 64 Degrees turning heads, this southern city’s food reputation is heading northwards.
Popular festival Grillstock and its branded restaurants have made Bristol a barbecue hot spot, but there’s more to this town than low and slow cooking. New entrants such as yakitori and ramen bar Sticks & Broth are broadening its scene, as will the addition of MeatLiquor this year. There are also whispers that The Ethicurean is looking for a central Bristol location. Fingers crossed it finds one.