London’s dining and drinking scene continues to boom, with ever more trends growing and themes emerging. Here’s an A-Z of eating and drinking in London in 2015 so far, encompassing the concepts, cuisines, fads and formats which are becoming — and set to become — big deals and defining features of eating and drinking in the capital.
A is for… Anju
This is the term used for Korean bar food — punchy small plates deliberately designed to be consumed with alcohol. They're popping up all over the place in London at the moment, most notably at Old Street’s On The Bab, Korean fried chicken joint Jubo in Shoreditch, and in the designated Anju Bar at Judy Joo’s JinJuu in Soho. We reckon it’s set to get much bigger, too.
Also see: London’s Best Korean Restaurants
B is for… Breweries
Brewing in London is nothing new — Fuller’s have been doing it since 1845 — but there’s no denying that microbreweries are having a bit of a moment. CAMRA notes that in January 2010 there were 14 commercial breweries in the capital, and that five years later in January this year there were 70. What’s more, a whopping 30 of those opened in 2014 alone. The momentum is still gathering pace, so we’d put money (at the least the price of a pint) on 2015 being the year that the number of London’s breweries go into triple figures.
Also see: Mapped: London’s Breweries And Brewpubs By Borough
C is for… Chops
London’s historic chophouses are all but gone (there are a few left), but Soho newcomer Blacklock has given the meaty cuts a whole new lease of life within an ex-brothel basement. Steak is so 2014, we declare this the year of the chops.
Also see: New Restaurant Blacklock Is Top Of The Chops
D is for… Death
It’s not as macabre as it sounds. There are several so-called death cafés around the world (especially in the States), where people can gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. In the words of the organisation which runs them: “our objective is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives”. There have already been a number of death café pop-ups in the capital, but plans are now underway to open a permanent site.
E is for… Eggs
As one of the world’s greatest and most important foodstuffs, it’s all too rare that eggs are put firmly in the limelight. But not any more. Chef Neil Rankin has opened Bad Egg in Moorgate, serving all manner of eggy-focused dishes, while the completely unrelated successful pop-up Good Egg will be opening a site in Stoke Newington shortly. There are whispers of more egg action from an established restaurateur further west, too.
F is for… Frickle
The frickle — or fried pickle — is upon us. These battered and deep-fried gherkins (or indeed other pickles) have been around for some time in Meat Liquor and a handful of other spots, but we think — and hope — that 2015 is the year they become a pub snack staple. Get them in Duke’s Brew & Cue in Haggerston, Ben’s Canteen in Battersea, Soho’s Pitt Cue Co and Leyton Technical among other places.
G is for… Gluten-free
Slowly but surely gluten-free food is moving on from the realms of hard-to-find faddy fare. And with more than 80,000 people in the capital who can’t eat gluten, it’s about time. From gluten-free fried chicken at Bird in Shoreditch to coeliac-friendly pizzas at GB Pizza and splendid roasts at The Truscott Arms, this is the year that London’s best food destinations are also becoming the most accommodating.
Also see: London’s Best Restaurants For Gluten-Free Dining
H is for… Home
It’s the hot new place to eat, apparently. Holloway Road’s recently-launched Homeburger has specially designed its burgers, packaging and cooking processes so they work well for home delivery, while countless other new companies are focused on delivering restaurant standard food to your door.
Also see: London’s Gourmet Food Delivery
I is for… International beer
The craft beer movement has focused much of its attentions on London breweries, pushing imports to the back of the shelves. But this year we’re getting interested in the foreign stuff again — The Italian Job in Chiswick is the UK’s first pub dedicated to Italian craft beer, while Beer & Buns near Liverpool Street offers a big selection of small-scale Japanese brews. Apparently North Korea has a lot of microbreweries, so maybe we’ll get a pop-up from them next?
J is for… Japan
It’s not just Japanese beer that’s booming, it’s bloody everywhere. On top of Beer & Buns, this year we’ve seen the launch of Engawa near Piccadilly Circus, yakitori-focused izakaya The Woodstock Kushiyaki Bar near Bond Street and Bone Daddies Shackfuyu in Soho, plus Japanese-influenced menus at Joe’s Oriental Diner in Chelsea and Bo Drake in Soho.
Also see: Where To Eat Japanese Food In London
K is for… King’s Cross
It’s the foodie destination of the moment. Recent and imminent openings include Dishoom, Granger & Co, The Greek Larder, Kimchee and Vinoteca, while other future residents will include Jamie Oliver and D&D. Not forgetting longer-standing eateries Caravan and Grain Store.
L is for… Levantine
This is London’s latest hot cuisine. It refers to a historical geographical term for a stretch of the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, which includes the modern-day countries of Cyprus, Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. While many of these countries have been well represented on London’s food scene for some time, the fusion-focused amalgamation of influences from each of them is more recent, spurred on, perhaps, by the runaway success of Soho’s The Palomar. New additions include Arabica in Borough Market and Ceru in Fitzrovia, while Sesame — headed up by an Ottolenghi founder, no less — will open in Covent Garden next month.
Also see: London’s Best Middle Eastern Restaurants
M is for… Mad caff schemes
Once upon a time London’s cafés were safehouses from the capital’s curious and curiouser array of madcap pop-ups and off-the wall eateries. Not any more. It started last year with the launch of Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium and reached feverpitch in December with the opening of Brick Lane’s Cereal Killer Café. This year we’ve already had a pop-up Cuddle Café and a Porridge Café, while an owl bar is on the horizon (amid animal welfare concerns), a second cereal café looks set to open in Camden and another cat café — from A Street Cat Named Bob, no less — is currently being crowdfunded. What next? A tiki bar where we’re served by monkeys? A spin-off of Belfast’s crisp sandwich shop?