We study our tea-leaves and take a look into our crystal hi-balls to predict 14 foodie trends that will help shape 2014.
1. Two veg and meat
Vegetables will increasingly take centre-stage in restaurant dishes. The move — which can already be seen at King’s Cross restaurant Grain Store — will not detract from the popularity of steaks and burgers, and will not be about vegetarianism but will celebrate just how versatile and delicious veg can be.
2. Urban brewpubs
London breweries are popping up all over the place, but we’re predicting Brewpubs will finally catch-on next year. They’re big in New York (which is a good sign for them heading over here) and they’re not uncommon in more rural parts of the country. The Bull in Highgate and Tap East in Stratford are two that are already around, and increasingly breweries are opening both permanent and temporary bars on-site, so this a logical progression.
3. French fancies
French restaurants might not be the first that come to mind when thinking of on-trend openings in London, but the likes of Balthazar, Brasserie Zedel and Blanchette say otherwise. We think we’ll see a steady stream of new affordable French brasseries and bistros in 2014, taking some of the attention off the Modern British fare that dominated new openings last year.
4. Lose your bottle
Wine will gradually start to be served from bags rather than bottles. It will take a long time for the bottle to lose its crown, and the sound isn’t that appealing, but well-respected wine bars such as Albertine in Shepherd’s Bush and Terroirs in Charing Cross are already starting to do so. Bags allow wine to be more readily served by the glass or carafe as well as by the whole 750mls.
5. Modern Vietnamese
Kingsland Road bustles with hungry and drunk people seeking pho and the likes, but Vietnamese has never yet managed to transcend the traditional cheap eat to also become an interesting, higher-end restaurant cuisine in the way Indian (think Benares or Cinnamon Kitchen) or Chinese (think Yauatcha or Hakkasan) has. Bobby Chinn could be the man to change this. The TV chef and owner of two popular restaurants in Vietnam is probably that country’s most famous and exciting chef. He will officially open House of Ho (now on soft-launch) in Soho on 6 January, serving modern interpretations of Vietnamese classics. We reckon he’ll have inspired more similar restaurants by the end of 2014.
6. Whisky business
As we reported, whisky was recently distilled in London for the first time in 103 years. We are now placing a metaphorical bet (for a wee dram) that there’ll be another distillery set up by the end of the year. When Sipsmith made a big success of its Hammersmith-distilled gin a few years back it led to an onslaught of small-scale gin distilleries starting up across town, so why couldn’t the same thing happen with whisky?
7. Burgeoning Battersea
With a new tube extension on the way, and a long-overdue Power Station revamp, Battersea will be booming in years to come. Its food scene is also stepping up a gear. Source and Augustine Kitchen opened recently, and Gordon Ramsay will reveal his newest restaurant London House in the area in February.
8. One-food wonders
We’ve had restaurants specialising in just one or two dishes for a while now, be they steak restaurants, chicken shops, hot-dog venues or a pairing of burgers and lobsters. This year we’ve seen the opening of Obika, specialising in mozzarella; La Polenteria, which deals in polenta; Blackfoot, serving almost-only pork; and self-explanatory The Potato Merchant. There’s no let-up in their popularity, so what will 2014 see? A mushroom restaurant? A corn-on-the-cob bar? A bacon bistro? An avocado emporium?
9. Cocktails on tap
For many, the craftsmanship and theatre of the cocktail are its biggest draws. For them (and that’s us included) the idea of cocktails on tap will take some getting used to, but hear us out. Served like a beer, they are pre-mixed and only garnished when ordered, leading to more consistent drinks and much quicker service. It’s easy to see how they could be handy for busting queues in a busy bar, but they do take some of the fun out of it all. Like it or not, they’re already being used in Soho Kitchen & Bar and are taking off left, right and centre in the New York.
10. Simon Rogan
Not so much a trend as just a chef, but if you aren’t familiar with this name yet, you soon will be. Rogan runs Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cumbria and previously ran two-year pop-up Roganic in Marylebone but will take on his biggest role yet in 2014 when he launches his new restaurant in Mayfair’s Claridges hotel. Known for foraging and making creative use of seasonal ingredients, the chef will be under international scrutiny when the much-hyped restaurant opens in spring.
11. Cava in the city
Prosecco had its moment a few years back, but it’s time for another fizz to take the crown. While Champagne is timeless, and English sparkling wine is endlessly popular if expensive, we are now seeing cava gain popularity, especially at the cheaper end of the market. Such is the demand for the wine that 2013 saw two dedicated cava bars open in London: Copa de Cava from tapas restaurant group Camino in St Paul’s, and Aqua Nueva’s Cava Bar near Oxford Circus. We’re not sure whether another Cava bar will open up in 2014, but we’re definitely expecting to see more of the stuff on menus and in restaurant wine lists.
12. International gastropubs
We mentioned this one a few weeks back and we’re still convinced that 2014 will be the year that gastropubs go global. Japanese gastropub Kurobuta is launching shortly, while Alan Yau (who brought us Wagamama) will open Chinese gastropub Duck & Rice shortly in Soho. Read more on our views of this developing trend here.
Usually confined to just a couple of weeks of the year, BBQs are set to be big in 2014 — as is food smoking. Ember Yard opened recently in Soho, serving tapas dishes inspired by char-grilling and smoking; Q is opening in Camden early next year (taking its name from the last letter of BBQ); and Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crab Shack is to open soon in Covent Garden complete with a ‘wall of fire’ and two 1.5 tonne wood-burning smokers. We have a feeling there’ll be plenty more places opening up in 2014 that are equally as unsuitable for the faint-hearted.
14. The Walkie Talkie
The restaurants that opened in The Shard this year were among the most popular in London, so we’re expecting something similar for those in this Fenchurch Street building that was blamed for melting cars when it opens in late 2014. There will be a sub-tropical ‘sky garden’ Champagne bar on the 35th floor, with the semi-casual Darwin Brasserie on the 36th and high-end Fenchurch Seafood Bar and Grill on the 37th. Though details are sparse, owners Rhubarb (which runs Gallery Mess restaurant at The Saatchi Gallery) says it has negotiated a tie-in with Heston Blumenthal, who will play a role in designing some special event menus. How right were we? Come back next year to see how accurate (or downright wrong) our predictions were…