In 2009 this became apparent when the nation’s then favourite cuisine, Indian, was replaced by perceptively healthier Chinese meals.
Now with the impact of the recession still lingering in people’s wallets, and with diners increasingly looking for an experience when they eat out, what cuisines will stir the nation’s heart in the future?
According to Allegra Strategies’ How Britain Eats 2010 report, the nation’s favourite cuisine to eat when out of home is now British, with Chinese following in second place.
The result may be attributed to the rise of quality simple, robust British dishes now served at many pubs, the popularity of ‘home-cooked’ comfort food resulting from economic instability, and the growing interest in local produce.
But while Chinese cuisine is forced to take a backseat for now, Steve Gotham, executive director at Allegra, predicts a rise in demand for healthy Asian concepts as a whole.
“There will be more interest in Asian cuisine, particularly street-inspired aspects, but more so for those that are price competitive and tick the healthy option boxes too,” he said. “There will be more healthy options on menus as a whole across all cuisines, although they will be promoted discreetly.”
Street food from around the world will continue to grow in popularity off the back of successful casual dining concepts like Wahaca and Pho. Mobile street kitchens will also be big news this year, with Canteen set to follow the likes of Byron, Jun Tanaka and The Meat Wagon.
“Consumers are looking for adventurous dining offers – meals they can’t replicate at home,” added Gotham. “Sharing and grazing platters that help consumers to enjoy a meal at a lower cost will become more popular across all cuisine types.”
Other popular cuisines set for growth this year include casual Mexican, which has seen an explosion in the capital with the expansion of Barburrito, Chilango, Tortilla and Wahaca, plus the introduction of US brands Chipotle and Cantina Laredo.
Its popularity in London however is set to spread to other cities across the UK in 2011 – the Chilango operators have already acquired a site in Brighton for its eventual expansion outside the capital.
Nordic-inspired restaurants looking to replicate the success of the World’s Best Restaurant Noma will also slowly emerge, with London’s North Road and Verru already setting a trend.
Off the back of Briton’s love affair with simple, robust dishes, steak and barbecue restaurants are already beginning to gather pace across the country, with the opening of the second Hawksmoor, Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, and the first non-London site for Gaucho Grill in the last few months.
2011 promises to continue the trend with the launch of Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at 45 Park Lane, Caprice Holdings’ 34 Grosvenor Square, plus Gaucho’s first CAU concept in Guildford.
With so many cuisines saturating the market it's no wonder that Indian food is no longer a firm favourite amongst diners (ranked as the fourth most popular cuisine by Allegra). However, its evolution into a concept to be enjoyed all-day and in street food form may well see its subsequent rise to power in 2011.
Next Monday (17 January) we’ll be taking a look at the flavours and food pairings likely to shape the restaurant industry over the next year.