Welcome to our weekly digest of all that’s happening in London’s food and drink scene.
Inside this week: farming and foraging, buns and bistrots
The shortlist has been announced for this year’s BBC Food and Farming Awards, and — despite not being particularly big on farming — London has done rather well, with five businesses from the capital in the running. E5 Bakehouse is nominated in the best food producer category, while Square Root London, which makes soft drinks and sodas, is up for the best drink producer gong. What The Dickens!, which serves Dickensian-style breakfasts of kidneys and kedgeree, is in the running for the street food category, and Crystal Palace Food Market is nominated for best food market. The MA in the Anthropology of Food run by SOAS is shortlisted in the best food initiative category. The winners will be announced on 30 April.
There were more award announcements this week in the form of influential industry do the Publican Awards, but London didn’t have a great showing, with many of its gastropubs and microbreweries notably overlooked. Capital winners did however include The Colombo Group — which runs The Blues Kitchen, Paradise By Way Of Kensal Green and The Cat & Mutton on Broadway Market — in the best late night operator category, and Fuller’s which won in the best managed pub category and (somewhat surprisingly) the best food category. BrewDog was awarded the gong for best brand, for its group of bars which includes sites in Battersea, Camden, Shepherd’s Bush and Shoreditch.
Chef Bruno Loubet will replace his Clerkenwell restaurant Bistrot Bruno Loubet (within The Zetter hotel) with a pop-up version of his King’s Cross venture Grain Store, he has revealed. The brasserie will close on 6 April, with Grain Store Unleashed launching on 13 April. It will offer a menu that’s similarly focused on making the most of vegetables without being vegetarian. It’s not clear exactly how long this project will run for, but a statement from the hotel promises that a ‘brand new idea’ is on the horizon.
After being home to Lucky Chip for three years, a new food brand is coming to Hackney pub the Sebright Arms. Bunsmiths — run by the team who own the pub — will focus on slow-cooked barbecued meat, served in buns. Fillings will include hickory-smoked beef brisket, wood-smoked pulled pork, buttermilk-fried chicken and veg fritters. Bunsmiths launches properly on Monday, but is be warming up this weekend by giving away 400 free buns across Saturday and Sunday — just call in and buy a drink to get your hands on one. There are plans to open a standalone Bunsmiths site down the line.
Back from the North
Clerkenwell restaurant North Road won a Michelin star for its Scandinavian-influenced cooking not long before it closed for good at the end of 2012, after chef Christoffer Hruskova had a falling out with his partners. We’ve heard nothing of him since, but now it’s been announced that he will run a two-week pop-up at Clapton wine bar and restaurant Verden from this Saturday (21 March) until 5 April. The menu will feature a lot of foraged ingredients, and merge Scandinavian flavours with international techniques. Dishes will include crispy chicken skin with smoked cheese; veal sweetbreads with nettle purée, spicy leaves and cheese whey; and lamb belly with turnips, wild garlic and unripe elderberries. Book through Verden.
Handy to know
Chefs and their hands are the focus of a short-lived new photographic exhibition at the Londonewcastle Project Space in Shoreditch, which launches next month. Fifty Chefs — The Hands That Feed London has been put together by photographer Katie Wilson, who says: “I was fascinated by the scars worn with pride on the hands of the chefs I met. I began to wonder, who are the people who cook for London? Not only the famous faces, but the sous chefs and kitchen hands; the dish-washers and potato peelers.” Among the fifty chefs photographed are Ollie Dabbous and Nuno Mendes, as well as many unknowns. The exhibition runs from 3-12 April and has free entry. Proceeds from the sale of prints will go to charity FareShare, which distributes food that would otherwise go to waste to those in need.
British restaurant Jar Kitchen opened in Covent Garden this week, while tomorrow sees the launch of The Richmond in Haggerston, which features a raw bar and serves natural wines and negronis on tap as well as offering an early evening oyster happy hour. Battersea’s Queenswood will open on soft-launch on Monday, with 50% off food until its official launch on 1 April. Next week will also see the arrival of French restaurant and wine bar Patron in Kentish Town, 200-cover all-day restaurant Percy & Founders in Fitzrovia, and another branch of Islington’s Smokehouse in Chiswick.
Looking further ahead, Searcy’s will open a new restaurant at the M by Montcalm hotel near Old Street station. It will be called Tonic & Remedy, and will take inspiration from the “apothecary history of Shoreditch”, meaning it will use an abundance of herbs, spices and wine in its food and cocktails. It will be headed up by chef Paul Welburn who has appeared on the BBC’s Great British Menu.
Elsewhere, Angela Hartnett has announced that she will open a second branch of Mayfair’s Café Murano in June, bringing the northern Italian concept to Covent Garden. And Jason Atherton has announced that his forthcoming Marylebone site Social Wine and Tapas will be headed up by his wife Irha Atherton.
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