Don’t believe us? Then look no further than funky Manhattan-inspired cafe Loaf, which serves a plethora of the melting marvels, and the black pudding toasted sandwich at Jason Atherton’s Berners Tavern for validation.
Chain restaurants will continue to take inspiration from their smaller brethren. Expect to see the inclusion of dishes such as duck and waffle, truffled mac ’n’ cheese and duck shepherd’s pie on multi-site menus this year.
Eastern spirits such as soju and baijiu
People are talking up the world’s biggest selling spirits, but the rise of cool Korean places and izakayas means that people might also be drinking them up this year as well.
Stealth brand extensions
This year will see major restaurant chains continue to launch spin-offs that move them into new territory, following in the footsteps of Cleaver, from Prezzo, and La Tasca’s ‘unbranded’ Bellota Bar y Tapas. New in 2014 could be flat-iron steak and chips restaurant MEAT, Mexican canteen Yucatan and all-day dining joint Slouch (or some similar names, anyway).
French dip sandwiches
The US’s love of beef sandwiches dipped in gravy is finally being felt here with the launch of Dip & Flip (D&F) in Clapham Junction, London. Expect to see more D&F sites popping up across the capital.
The Asian gastropub
Alan Yau's Duck & Rice in Soho is likely to rekindle publicans' desires to return to the heady days of the mid 1990s when a Thai restaurant was the pub accessory du jour. This time around pubs will be a bit more open to fusion and street food, with beer-friendly dishes such as Japanese katsu curry and kare pan (curry bread), Korean fried chicken and Taiwanese steamed hirata buns making an appearance. Remember: where Yau leads, folk often follow.
Cocktails and wine on tap
Once considered the height of naff, wine and cocktails on draught are slowly trickling into the UK bar and restaurant scene thanks to their popularity in The States. Angelinos have long been used to supping on high quality wine straight from the tap and there’s no reason why we can’t either. Newly-launched American-themed bar and restaurant Far Rockaway in Shoreditch serves a draught selection of cocktails for speed of service – and quirkiness – and bars are also starting to serve pre-mixed batched cocktails in anything from barrels to slushy machines. The same can be said for sparkling wine, with draught brands such
as Frizzenti starting to pop up in restaurant bars. The high-quality on-tap prosecco can be served straight or used to mix drinks such as the Bellini and the Rossini.
More attention will be paid to the tongues, cheeks and liver of the fish and less to prissy fillets.
Already championed by any restaurant with a ‘shack’ in its title – Grill Shack and Shake Shack anyway – and the mighty Nando’s, counter service will move further into the mainstream as it shrugs off its fast-food connotation.
High precision coffee
More baristas will switch attention away from latte art to things such as water retention. Expect to see an increasing number of pros weighing their cups of coffee on scales in a bid to achieve precise control over the flavour profile of their coffee.
The twisted burrito
The Tex-Mex treat will face stronger competition from wraps of a slightly different bent, including the Korean toasted burritos from street food player Kimchinary (slow braised bulgogi ox cheek) and Indian ones from Wrapchic (mutton madrasi). New entrant Burrito Mama also rings the changes by putting slaw into its wraps.
Restaurants will finally get to grips with systems that can further streamline the ordering process and up volume. About time, too.
Gentrified sports bars
The sports bar – long term home of the pot-bellied Manchester United top wearer – becomes gentrified with the rise of sport-friendly establishments that serve up more than mainstream lager, ‘famous’ hamburgers, pent-up post-football aggression, unfettered disappointment and a pool cue fight at 1am. See The Draft House’s Seething Lane pub for a taste of the future.
The new Bermondsey, welcoming new restaurants, including Source, London House and Augustine.
Late-night pizza slingers
Pizza parlours are becoming late-night venues thanks to the likes of Earlham Street Clubhouse in London’s Covent Garden and Manchester’s Dogs n Dough. Watch out this year for by-the-slice slinger Chuck’s Clubhouse, a pizza parlour named after a fictional college party guy, which will be modelled on the set of a US college movie. We’re guessing Porky’s.
High quality takeaway/delivery offers
More operators will follow in Fulham-based premium burger delivery company Chosen Bun’s footsteps with a more sophisticated takeaway and delivery service. Look out for Bodean’s improved takeaway offering in
early 2014 and the on-the-go service from the soon-to-open L’Anima Café in the City.
The rise of the barbecue
Thanks to the likes of Pitt Cue and the groundwork laid by restaurants such as Barbecoa and Bodean's, barbecue is back on the radar in the UK. This has predominantly been in the US pit style, with pulled pork, brisket and ribs majoring on menus, and while this trend will gather pace in 2014, it will be joined by a style of cooking over charcoal that has its roots in Middle Eastern, Italian and Spanish cooking.
New kid on the block Peckham Bazaar, in London, captured the zeitgeist last year when it opened its popular restaurant with little more than an outside barbecue on which to do the majority of its cooking. Its success has been down to its almost primitive methods of grilling and smoking, recreating Greek, Turkish, Albanian and Iranian recipes, such as pigeon bistilla with cauliflower tagine; and lamb and venison adana with freekah and spiced yoghurt.
Newly opened Ember Yard in London’s Soho is a continuation of this theme, this time taking its cues from Tuscany and Spain’s Basque region as well as restaurants such as Asador Etxebarri in Spain, a regular on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list where everything is cooked or smoked over a home-made grill. Some 95 per cent of Ember Yard’s menu comes from the grill or from a Josper oven, with the restaurant using
single-species charcoal and half-wood,half-charcoal mixes for different smoke flavours. It even smokes fruit for its cocktails.
This more rustic style of barbecue will sit alongside the trend for US-inspired grilling, which will grow apace this year. Significant launches include Big Easy’s second site, opening in CoventGarden next month. US barbecue expert Kenny Callaghan, former chef-partner of legendary New York restaurant Blue Smoke, will be its executive chef, while the role of pit master will go to Pete Daversa, former pit master at Hill Country Barbecue Market in New York. This will add gravitas to the launch, as will the use of serious kit such as a ‘wall of fire’, comprising two 2.5-metre Argentinian-style parrilla charcoal
grills, a two-metre rotisserie spit that will roast whole hogs, and a wood-burning oven. A dedicated pit will house two J&R wood-burning smokers imported from Texas where meats will all be freshly smoked on the premises.
Places to watch out for: Red's, Leeds; Peckham Bazaar, Peckham, London; Ember Yard, Soho, London; Big Easy, Covent Garden, London; Grillstock Smokehouse, Bristol; Q, Chalk Farm, London; Smokey Tails, Haggerston, London; Cane & Grain, Manchester; Spitfire Barbecue, Bristol.
And there's more.....
2014’s ingredients and plats du jour
- Ibérico pork ribs
- Whipped lardo
- Cod’s roe
- British chorizo