Here are 13 things that made eating and drinking more exciting than ever in London in 2013.
2. We got brewing big-time
At least 23 new breweries opened up in London this year according to CAMRA, including Brixton, CRATE and Old Truman; others such as Hackney, By The Horns and Kernel came into their own with pumps in more and more pubs.
3. Wine became cool again
And what’s not to like about that? From Hackney wine bars to vinous pop-ups and BYO, here are our six reasons why drinking wine in London is cool.
4. Our first crowdfunded restaurant opened
When The Clove Club opened in the old Shoreditch Town Hall last March it became London’s first crowdfunded restaurant. The extra money the owners (the guys behind the Young Turks series of pop-ups and supper clubs) needed for opening was raised through Crowdcube. It serves a five-course tasting menu based around seasonal British ingredients. Similarly, brewery BrewDog has partially funded the opening of new bars this year through their Equity for Punks scheme, including one in Shepherd’s Bush.
5. Two of America’s biggest burger chains opened up in town
When American burger giants Shake Shack and Five Guys both opened up close to Covent Garden this summer, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a move that could change the way we view fast food forever. We don’t reckon that’s quite the case (and London has far better burger options) but they’re a nice addition to Central London’s snacking options all the same.
7. We’ve made our own whisky
Thanks to a Battersea-based distillery, 2013 saw whisky made in London again for the first time in 103 years.
8. We hosted the world’s first proper exhibition on a chef
Somerset House became the world’s first gallery to put on an exhibition devoted to a chef or restaurant when it hosted The Art of Food based on Ferran Adria, this summer. The Spanish chef is among the world’s best and most influential, famous for his now closed Michelin three-star restaurant elBulli near Barcelona; he is known for being a source of inspiration for Heston Blumenthal.
9. We’re a street food sensation
Our street food scene has continued to grow. It used to be said that London lagged behind many world-class cities in the street food stakes. From shindigs at Camden Brewery to Street Feast, Kerb and the increasingly brilliant Brockley Market, we well and truly caught up this year.
10. We’re out of the recession
London’s restaurant scene may have held up better than anywhere else in the country, but it’s still been a rocky few years. Not anymore. It’s been reported that sales are up to 4.8% higher in the run-up to Christmas this year than last, while caviar is back on the menu at Green’s Oyster Bar in St James’s after a three year hiatus.
11. We went clucking mad for chicken
This was the year that chicken shops went gourmet. Chicken Shop, Le Coq, Clutch and Clockjack Oven brought ethical and carefully cooked chicken to Kentish Town, Tooting, Islington, Hackney and Soho in 2013. We weren’t entirely convinced at the prospect of gastro-takeaways, though…
12. Shopping got tastier (and dinkier)
No more dodgy department store cafes. 2013 saw Burger & Lobster open in Harvey Nichols, a Mark Hix bar opened in the Selfridges shoe department and a large new Hackett store on Regent Street came complete with a Beefeater Gin bar.
13. We’re the best, apparently
More than ever before, this year little old London has been declared among the most exciting and best food cities in the world by international sites and top chefs alike. We also won big in the National Restaurant Awards and dominated the World’s 50 Best Bars list.