Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Food trends, BBQ and Burgers (and Lobster)
Every year at about this time, there is always a little talk about what the newest food trends are going to be. Of what everyone will be eating and what to expect in the restaurants. I was pretty confident about my prediction of American based food last year, and I was mostly not let down. What we really wanted was some good old American BBQ and we certainly got that from the little silver bullet under Hungerford bridge in Pitt Cue. Barbecoa was less sucessful, but mainly for trying to cater en masse and the intention was there. Letting pre prepared mounds of meat to stew do not lend well to BBQ.
Burgers were also a huge part of 2011, with Meat Liquor opening and a dozen other places rising to prominence in the burger game such as Lucky Chip, Honest burgers and the Admiral Codrington. Burgers have always been a popular comfort food, so I guess it's rise once and for all was not too much of a shock.
What did surprise me was how well the street food scene has taken off this year. It's always been there in drips and drabs, but really just needed someone to grab it by the balls and get pitches. Petra Barran and her eat.st movement have been fundamental in making this happen, and we now have a burgeoning street food scene growing in London.
Personally, I don't envisage much of a slow down in the street food scene in 2012. In fact, I definitely see a significant growth in the New Year. With the success and growth of markets such as Brixton Village, Netil Market and the Long Table this year, I would be extremely surprised to see independents in decline. Even with some of the bigger boys entering the fray soon (rumours abound for a Jamie Oliver van, or even one from Pizza express), I don't think they will be able to cope. What these places have in their favour is that they specialise, and what they do they do well. I really think this specialisation is not only going places in the street food scene, but in the bricks and mortar scene too.
Only last week, I was lucky enough to pop into the new kitchen of Pitt Cue to sample some of their delights. Working amidst a building site (they hope to be fully open in early January), they managed to knock up the most amazing smoky little pulled pork bun. Adorned with some homemade pickles, each bite was bliss and before I knew it, it was gone. Then I tried a little of their beef cheeks and pickled shiitake and I was back there again, in that little meaty happy place. Pitt Cue aren't going to be messing about, they are going to stick to what they know and do it well. Pulled pork, ribs, pickles and a few little experiments when they have a little bit of time. Nice.
Which brings me to Burger and Lobster. There is so much I can say about this place already, but I will keep it short. I love it. The only menu they have is for the bar, and you merely get the choice between a lobster or a burger. At £20 each, they both arrive with fries, salad and condiments (pickles or a butter sauce). Although the burger may be veering towards the pricy end, the whole lobster is exceedingly good value. Only other menu additions are a lobster roll (at £18 I believe) and two mousses, chocolate and lime. I see myself developing a bit of a lobster addiction in the near future.
So there you have it, a few long winded (yet brief compared to what is actually going on in my head) thoughts on the year and what we may expect from the next. As with any trends, you are never truly able to know what is going to happen, but where we have seen food heroes made out of people such as Mark (aka The Ribman) and Abiye (aka Mr Big Apple Hot Dog), expect a few more in 2012. Embrace specialisation, after all, there is nothing wrong with actually being rather good at a few things.
*Pitt Cue will be located at 1 Newburgh street and is due to open in early January. I was also a guest at a dry run for bloggers at Burger and Lobster.*
Burger and Lobster - 29 Clarges street, Mayfair London W1J 7EF