Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Roundup - 2012

So 2012… I have to say, it wasn't been a classic for many, many reasons. I've done a lot of working (you may have noticed that the posts dry up as the stress levels rise) and not nearly enough eating (well, that's my opinion). Hopefully the balance will sway back the other way in 2013 and I'll be back in the saddle...

Rather than 'treat' you to a top 5 or a top 10 that will inevitably be better written (and certainly better researched) by one of the pros, I thought I'd end the year by mentioning a few of my favourite things and linking to some of my favourite posts that you may have missed. In no particular order...

Opening of the year - Brasserie Zedel: 
The food isn't ever going to win an award, but it's fine, ridiculously cheap, served in the most wonderful surroundings and in doing those things so well in the centre of Piccadilly Circus managed to change the game for London restaurant openings this year. Oh and they do a mean cocktail too... (full review here)

2012 / 2013 - Food trends of note:
Street food, burgers, ramen, ceviche and the no reservation hype machine. Over. Them. All. Now... Next year I think we're going to start with much of the same, though expect the American invasion to continue unabated. Hot on the heels of MASH (Danish but heavily American influenced) and STK on the Strand, we'll be getting a sister to Keith McNally's iconic New York dinner hall and bakery Balthazar, the Standard Grill, the long, long awaited La Esquina and in the biggest news to anyone obsessed with the trend of 2012, Danny Meyer will be opening Shake Shack in Covent Garden. You ain't seen a queue till you've seen a Shake Shack queue. In slightly more interesting news, expect a few more Peruvian / Argentinian openings, a return to London for Eric Chavot and the first international venture from the father / daughter team behind the legendary Arzak in San Sebastian. 

My personal food trend: Dim Sunday
I've had a bit of a Chinese obsession this year (yeah, I know, alongside the burger obsession, the steak obsession and the calorie obsession) which has wonderfully and    reasonably frugally manifested itself in a huge propensity to do dim sum. As a weekend hangover cure, it knows no equal. Freshly steamed parcels of sweet prawn, herby pork and umami filled dumplings arriving in an endless stream to your table. We've mainly been at the redoubtable Dragon Castle and the slightly less salubrious Hong Kong City, both South East London and both highly recommended.

Openings of interest: 
Antico (lovely little Italian on the bottom of Bermondsey Street, great for eating fresh pasta and laughing at the 3 customers in Greg Wallace's place across the road) Ceviche (fresh, loud and exciting Peruvian joint), 10 Greek Street (wasn't too impressed, but I know others are wowed), La Bodega Negra (tasty if pricy haute Mexican) and the Green Man & The French Horn (a grotty Covent Garden boozer given the Terroirs treatment).

The worst things I ate:
Or, things I do in the line of misguided duty... ChaCha Moon was pretty bad and Carluccios as repressively pointless as ever but, the winner has to go to the King's Cross abomination that was Bistro de la Gare

Some of the best things I ate:
Damn it, despite declaring an end to my burger reviewing, any list has to include one of the many, many burgers I've slammed down my impatient cakehole… maybe one of the specials at still quality chain Byron (their three cheese is a heady delight), or one of the many MEATempire patties I've noshed, or indeed maybe the exceptional off-menu effort from Covent Garden stalwart Joe Allen, serving poverty stricken actors since Yanni Papoutsis was a lad.

Other than those, I had the best BBQ of my life while in New York recently, slow, soft smoked brisket served alongside headsplittingly strong cocktails in jam jars by Williamsburg hipsters Fette Sau ( I may have been a little drunk, but I'd be willing to swear that it's worth the plane fare just for another go on one of their pulled pork sandwiches.

I'd also go a long distance for Jose Pizarro's fabulous croquettes (thankfully I don't have to) and I've been pulled back to Indian street food specialists Roti Chai a couple of times for tender, delicately spiced and moreish chicken lollipops. It's been a good year! Hype aside though, nothing beats the satisfaction of great food, simply and well cooked. And no matter what 2013 brings, it's almost certainly going to bring a couple of trips to perennial favourites like Zucca, Hawksmoor and Andrew Edmunds.

Unequivocally though, the winner has to be the fresh bread and pomegranate sauce starter at FM Mangal, foodie crack cocaine and one of the best kept secrets in South East London (until Rayner told everyone…)

 That Shake Shack burger... coming your way soon!

 A pile of sliders... 

 The most perfect veal chop from Zucca

  And ramen... This one from Bone Daddies 


  1. OOhhh, London's getting a Standard Grill? Is that at the new Andre Balazs property?, because I think that might be another Mercer, not a Standard. Either way, I'm excited either way. I think I'll be using it as an excuse to visit London again. Should count as work research, no?

  2. Hey Angie, how's it going? Apparently we're getting a Standard Grill, though it is the new Andre Balazs place, so could be either of 'em.... Likewise, I'm also excited either way! Definitely counts as work, gimme a shout when you're over