Whilst we’re always told to keep looking forward – must.keep.moving. – it’s as customary at this time of year to make resolutions for the year ahead as it is to reflect on the previous 12 months. At points this year (September in particular) we could barely keep up with the volume of quality restaurant openings in the city. But we managed, and as things begin to slow down now, we’ve had a chance to reflect on the biggest foodie trends of 2015.
Many restaurants are now on so many people’s lips that they feel as though they’ve been around for years. Sexy Fish has got to be one of the most-talked about openings; despite the name inducing serious doubt in The Handbook office, celebrities flocking to Berkeley Square left, right and centre mean we’ve said the two words together far more than we ever thought we would. Along with sexy Asian fish restaurants came numerous other Asian restaurants – Soho’s Bao (Taiwanese) being the most spoken about of all. Vietnamese was undoubtedly the most popular cuisine to come to London; Pho & Bun, Mr Bao, FOLD and House of Ho. Quick, flavoursome, healthy and often reasonably priced, the charms of the East seemed impossible to resist. Forget iced buns, we now take our buns fluffy, steamed and stuffed full of pork belly. We bao down to the amazingness.
Another common trend on the street was… well, street food. Continuing to take Londoners by storm, primarily at summer pop-ups, if we couldn’t have meatballs with our Pimms we weren’t that bothered. Speaking of meatballs, many opened permanent sites for quick and tasty lunchtime offerings – The Bowler in Covent Garden – and slightly more gourmet Balls & Company in Soho (get the Wagyu beef).
Big name restaurants continued to expand; Dishoom opened on Soho’s Kingly Street and MeatLiquor headed North to Islington. MeatLiquor’s success headed up the finger-licking success of meaty BBQ food, with Bleecker Street Burger and The Rib Man (coincidentally, London’s most tweeted about street food) rising in their success. The Ivy spread in a way fitting for the ground-covering plant of the same name – there’s now The Ivy, The Ivy Cafe, Ivy Market Grill, Ivy Chelsea Garden and Ivy Kensington Brasserie. Cocktail Trading Company hidden below Central & Co in Soho was one of the many underground bars to open (2016 will see one on Brick Lane), there was the Company & Below in the basement of Balls & Company (yep, meatballs again) and Bourne & Hollingsworth’s Below & Hidden basement club.
The hype around new openings won’t die down any time soon; 2016 is already looking promising with big names including Soho House City Hotel and Nobu Hotel Willow Street as well as exciting new future favourites. Watch this space…