Looking for new restaurants and the latest foodie trends? Here are our top picks for food trends for 2019...
Could 2019 see more Filipino restaurants opening in the UK? After the success of Kinilaw and Buko in Hoxton (where dishes include salted duck egg, heirloom tomato, mustard leaf and grated cured yolk; and hand-dived scallop, cucumber, radish, lime and fermented roe), the Filipino fast-food chain Jollibee opened in Earl’s Court, serving dishes such as the signature fried chicken with its side of spaghetti, tomato sauce topped with hotdog slices and ground beef. Described as a cross between McDonald’s and KFC, Jollibee has 1,300 branches worldwide and the chain plans to open a further 25 stores in the UK over the next five years.
The rise of veganism and flexitarians
It’s official. Meat-free foods are in the mainstream now, with a report from market research firm Mintel claiming that 56% of UK adults have eaten vegetarian food and 34% of Brits have either limited or reduced their meat intake in the past year. Supermarkets such as Waitrose (the first in the UK to add a dedicated vegan section in 125 stores nationwide) and Iceland have embraced the rise of veganism and now you can buy anything from ‘fish-less’ fish fingers made with tofu and seaweed to a beetroot wellington. To highlight this shift from minority interest to mainstream, the latest edition of The Good Food Guide now highlights restaurants with specifically vegan menus. Check out our best vegan recipes here.
An increasing number of people are also identifying as ‘flexitarian’ (only eating meat and fish occasionally), opting for a plant-focussed diet when cooking at home or eating out. Rosa’s Thai Cafe chain has been a trailblazer in bringing more choice to flexitarian diners, and owner Saiphin Moore says the past year has seen more customers asking for meatless dishes. She says: “Offering vegetarian options has always been very important to us and I think meat-free foods will only become more popular. Our stir-fry aubergine with chilli and holy basil is one of our most popular dishes, for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.”
Oldroyd, Tom Oldroyd’s eponymous restaurant in Islington (discover our Islington foodie guide here), introduced a weekly-changing meat-free Monday menu that became so popular he introduced a dedicated vegetarian and vegan Christmas menu. He says: “We used to get one or two requests a week for vegan dishes but it’s now a daily occurrence. That’s why we wanted to dedicate a whole day to being meat-free. It gives us time to experiment, keeps us thinking about new dishes and inevitably spills out into the rest of the week. Since offering meat-free (and 80% vegan) Mondays we’ve seen our customer numbers double on this day.”
Persian cooking is not new to the UK – Hafez in Notting Hill (check out our guide to the best restaurants in Notting Hill here), for example, is still going strong after 35 years – but there’s a notable trend emerging towards restaurants with a specific Iranian focus. Early 2019 will see the launch of Nutshell in Covent Garden (we've compiled the best restaurants in Covent Garden here), an Iranian restaurant from ex-Noma chef Leonardo Pereira, who will use British produce for dishes such as overnight coal-baked squash, barberries and saffron curds; goat leg, grilled onions, buttermilk and coriander; and pomegranate, goat’s milk and pistachio. Nutshell follows hot on the heels of Berenjak in Soho (read our restaurant review here), which is styled on the hole-in-the-wall kabab houses of Tehran. From the same team behind Gymkhana and Brigadiers (check out our Brigadiers restaurant review and party menu here), the kitchen at Berenjak is run by Kian Samyani, who has drawn on his Persian upbringing to create dishes including blackened aubergine with whey, walnuts and dried mint; poussin marinated in chilli, sumac, garlic and red pepper; and slow-cooked lamb shank with fenugreek, dried lime and kidney beans.
Move over pesto, make room harissa, there’s a new condiment on the rise. Hailing from Yemen, zhoug is a vibrant, spicy paste made from coriander, cumin, parsley and green chilli. Popular in Israeli street food, it’s a perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb and roasted vegetables, as well as stirred into yogurt as a dip or with wine vinegar for a punchy dressing. Available in supermarkets under the Belazu brand, you can also buy zhoug via the website of Yotam Ottolenghi, who is also one of the condiment’s most high-profile advocates. Check out our roasted cauli and couscous salad with zhoug and crispy shallots in the January issue of the magazine.
At the time of writing, and with a deal still on a knife edge, the long-term effect of Brexit on the food industry is unknown. Could it result in a ‘national food crisis’? Are the government and businesses really stockpiling food in case of shortages – the worst since wartime rationing? It’s too early to say, but we do know that the hospitality sector is already suffering as EU nationals leave the UK for fear of losing their jobs in restaurants and hotels, and very few are arriving to replace them. At a time when demand has never been higher for eating out, there may be fewer staff to serve and cook, leading to some places reducing their opening hours or closing their doors completely.
We’re told that post-Brexit food prices are likely to rise significantly and there could be a shortage of certain products – after all, half of the food in Britain is imported and 30% comes from EU countries. On the upside, there is talk of more hospitality apprenticeships to encourage home-grown talent, and any food shortages may encourage us to grow more in the UK. Whatever happens, it’s pretty clear that the world of food and drink in the UK will look very different after 29 March. Watch this space.
Retro dishes are back
Once the preserve of 70s dinner parties and 80s office buffets, the humble vol au vent has shaken off its dated image and been revived by a number of top chefs. At Christmas in 2017, Hélène Darroze launched a Hélène at Home range of party food at the Harrods Food Hall, which included vol au vents filled with lobster, sweetbreads and salsify. Bristol restaurant Wellbourne has a number of seasonal vol au vents (the trompettes version being our favourite); and crab vol au vents with avocado, green apple and crab bisque have become an Insta-favourite at Kerridge’s Bar & Grill, where other retro dishes such as beef faggots are served with mustard mash, charred onions and trompettes. Who else is hoping for next-gen cheese and pineapple hedgehogs?
Greek wine can be traced back to the days when Hippocrates used it for medicinal purposes, but now the Greek mainland and islands like Crete and Santorini are gaining a formidable reputation for award-winning wines. Forget those rough, tongue-stripping bottles of retsina you tried on Greek holidays with your parents (check out our top picks for best places to eat and drink in the Greek islands here) – there is a lot of excellent wine emerging from the country and some of it is already reaching the supermarket shelves. Look out for wines made with the red grape xinomavro – M&S sells a rich and smooth steak-friendly one produced by the dynamic young winemaker Apostolos Thymiopoulos.
Whey as an ingredient
A byproduct of cheese-making, whey is the liquid left after milk has been curdled and strained. Often turned into soft whey cheeses such as ricotta, it is increasingly being used by enterprising chefs who like to reduce waste. Mark Jarvis, the chef-owner of Anglo, Neo Bistro and Stem restaurants in London, serves a starter of whey with English peas, black garlic emulsion and salted egg yolk; while Douglas McMaster (olive Chef Awards winner) at Brighton’s Silo has served whey with potatoes and blackberries. Food writer and River Cottage chef Gill Meller recently used whey in a soda bread recipe developed for Quicke’s. He says: “[Whey] makes a great alternative to stocks in creamy soups, it’s perfect for gently poaching fish or pork in and it makes an absolutely delicious sorbet”. In Edinburgh, Scott Smith at Fhior uses his to make caramel in a dessert of raw rhubarb, white chocolate and meadowsweet yogurt, and has even tried carbonating it. Look out for this low-waste by-product on a menu near you.
Jackfruit, often used as a pulled pork replacement, was huge last year but the next ‘meaty’ vegetable, according to buyers at New Covent Garden Market, will be mushrooms. Varieties like Hen of the Woods, Beefsteak (which even ‘bleeds’ when cut) and the more common portobello all have a firm, fleshy texture that makes them ideal steak replacements in meat-free recipes.
Since the success of Seedlip, the market for non-alcoholic spirits has grown rapidly. Whether you’re a designated driver or simply want to cut down on the booze, non-alcoholic alternatives are going to continue to be big in 2019 as premium brands such as the vodka-like Stryyk (a distilled herbal and botanical drink) and Monte Rosso Non Alcoholic Apéritif (an Italian orange-red drink that makes a booze-free cocktail) reach the supermarket shelves.
Drinking apple cider vinegar
Drinking vinegar for medicinal reasons has been around for centuries and many people swear by it to help reduce weight, support gut health and reduce blood sugar. We’re not talking the vinegar you splash on your chips – apple cider vinegar has a rounded flavour and products such as the raw, unfiltered Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (sold in Holland & Barrett) is made with mother of vinegar. Waitrose saw sales of apple cider vinegar rise 60% this year.
It’s best to check with a medical professional before drinking vinegar on a regular basis – highly acidic, vinegar can destroy teeth enamel, cause burns in your throat and upset your stomach, so it must be diluted. Check out your local deli for new drinking vinegars emerging this year.
British goat meat has been a trend for a couple of years but it’s finally becoming more widely available and less niche, according to James Whetlor, the former chef who now runs Cabrito Goat Meat in Devon and supplies a number of top restaurants across the UK. Goat meat is now appearing on more menus and it’s becoming easier for home cooks to source. James says: “Goat is unquestionably becoming more mainstream as more butchers are stocking it, and I’m getting more mail orders. By the end of 2019 it will be in supermarkets, no question.” Check out our Jamaican goat curry and Trini curry goat.
Boiled eggs are back!
For years the much-maligned staple of family picnics – when overcooked yolks were more grey than golden – the humble boiled egg is back. Whether it’s in classic egg mayonnaise, a chopped salad (think retro Russian salad or high end chopped egg salad with bottarga at Michelin-starred Brat) or devilled, this cheap, high-protein food deserves to make a comeback.
The end of the avocado?
News that the avocado isn’t truly vegan (growers rely on ‘migratory bees’ which are trucked across countries to pollinate crops, disrupting the natural rhythm of the colony) and that they are harmful to the environment (it takes around 272 litres of water to grow a single avocado) could mean people are looking for an alternative to smash or spread onto their toast. Sales of nut-based spreads have soared meanwhile, especially peanut butter. High in protein and easily spreadable on your morning sourdough, spreads such as Whole Earth’s peanut butter with sunflower, pumpkin and flax seeds may well replace smashed avocado in 2019.
The good news for diners who want to skip dinner and go straight to the sweet stuff is the continuing trend for high quality, dessert-only venues. Cakes & Bubbles at the Hotel Café Royal in London’s Regent Street is the latest example of this. Run by Spanish pastry chef Albert Adrià (brother of Ferran of the legendary Michelin three-star restaurant elBulli) who runs Tickets, Barcelona’s hottest restaurant, Cakes & Bubbles serves a menu of incredible desserts including Albert’s signature (and surprising) Tickets cheesecake, and egg flan with dark caramel.
Sweet-toothed diners can also get their fix at Whipped in Covent Garden, run by former Le Gavroche chef and patissier, Alice Churchill. This new dessert spot serves delicious ‘whipped’ frozen cheesecakes, including an entirely vegan option, and signature whips such as The Kensington Princess (scone crumb, classic vanilla cheesecake, raspberry gel and champagne meringues topped with gold leaf).
Is French food fashionable again?
Rewind 30 years and there were French restaurants all over the UK but they slowly disappeared as diners travelled further and fell for the charms of other world cuisines. Of course, there are still beacons of classic French cooking at long-established places like Le Gavroche and Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, but now there’s a new wave of modern French restaurants. Tom Oldroyd’s The Duke of Richmond may be a Hackney pub but the cooking is inspired more by France with dishes like ratatouille Provençal, goat’s curd and baked garlic bread or onglet steak a la bordelaise. The latest example of this Gallic-influenced trend is Caractère in Notting Hill where Emily Roux and ex-Gavroche head chef Diego Ferrari are combining French and Italian dishes, including roast rack of Herdwick lamb, grilled aubergine, ras el hanout and lamb jus.
Colourful fruit and veg
Those in the know at New Covent Garden Market, which supplies fruit and vegetables to many of London’s top restaurants and countless greengrocers say colourful fruit and vegetables will be big over the next 12 months. After last year’s purple cauliflowers and brussels sprouts, things will take an even darker turn in 2019 as black potatoes, radishes and corn make an appearance on the shelves of your local fruit and veg stall, alongside candy-striped beetroots and yellow heritage carrots. Instagrammers need not fear as colourful berries – think UK-grown golden raspberries, white strawberries and pink blueberries – will be around in summer to brighten things up, too.
After beer, it was, perhaps, inevitable that cider would be the next drink to get a ‘craft’ makeover. Often using the same production techniques as champagne, there is a move towards ciders made from long-lost and revived single variety apples, with no nasty additives and minimal intervention between orchard and bottle. Look out for exciting new producers such as Find & Foster in Devon, and Little Pomona Cider from Herefordshire as leading examples of this burgeoning market.
You only have to look at how popular gin and negronis have become to see that our palates are changing and that we’re craving more bitter flavours in our drinks. Aperol and Campari are still very much go-to drinks in restaurants and cocktail bars, but others are now gaining ground. We’ve seen French-made Suze served as part of a white negroni, and the Italian drink Cynar used in a gin fizz.
After the success of new-wave London establishments such as Noble Rot and Terroirs, a number of small, interesting, neighbourhood wine bars are opening up across the UK, many of them serving several wines by the glass, plates of well chosen charcuterie, artisan cheeses and small plates. From the Twisted Cellar in Bishop’s Stortford and Wright’s in Cardiff to Docket No 64 in Chester (run by ex-Gordon Ramsay chef Stuart Collins) and Carruthers & Kent in Newcastle upon Tyne, these relaxed venues also often host tasting events and have shops where you can buy wine to take home. We’ll raise a glass to the prospect of many more such wine bars opening in 2019.
Not tried the unique Southeast Asian food of Myanmar (formerly Burma) before? Now’s your chance. Fragrant and lightly spiced, many Burmese dishes contain fish sauce, tamarind, cardamom and fresh herbs such as coriander and lemongrass. Such was the success of Burmese Lahpet’s Hackney warehouse pop-up that it opened a permanent restaurant in Shoreditch in 2018, as well as a street-food kitchen at Old Spitalfields Market. Signature dishes at Lahpet include hake masala with lemongrass rosti, and stuffed aubergine with dried shrimp and oyster mushroom.
In Huddersfield, Cafe Mandalay serves dishes such as sautéed wild mushrooms on a bed of chilli-dressed udon noodles, pickled mushrooms, mustard greens, crispy rice noodles and shallots. And, Nila’s Burmese Café in Manchester’s Trafford Park is proving a hit thanks to main courses including local pork shoulder slow-cooked with tamarind, spices, garlic and ginger.
And it’s not just restaurants where people are discovering Burmese food. The success of east London supper club Rangoon Sisters – aka NHS doctors Emily and Amy Chung, who were listed in the OFM Top 50 this year – has seen more Burmese supper clubs start up, and this June sees the launch of Mandalay: Burmese Food & Beyond, a new book by MiMi Aye featuring nearly 100 simple Burmese recipes – from the national dish of mohinga (a fish chowder with rice noodles and lemongrass, traditionally served at breakfast) to lahpet thoke, a classic Burmese salad of pickled green tea leaves.
We all know that single-use plastic is a bad thing for the environment, and many of us have made great efforts to reduce our consumption this year. In 2019 let’s up the ante and do a complete sustainability overhaul of our kitchens. We’re doing it in the olive test kitchen – where possible, swapping clingfilm for beeswax wraps and containers; recycling carrier bags; working with more eco-conscious suppliers; making the most of our leftovers; reducing our food waste overall, and plenty more besides.
Check out the growing number of package-free, zero-waste shops, such as the newly opened Sea No Waste in Arbroath, a shop that sells only loose fruit and vegetables, has local apple juice on tap and makes its own nut butter. Sea No Waste even sells paper ‘soup bags’ containing the exact ingredients for a seasonal soup with a recipe attached – an ingenious way of reducing packaging and food waste at the same time.
Ripple, by former food writer Sophie Rae (pictured), opened in Cardiff in November, and stocks some 160 bulk whole foods, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits, as well as Welsh yogurt, eggs and milk, local kombucha with a glass bottle return scheme, plus pump-dispensed detergents, cleaning supplies and dishwasher powder, and much more.
Interest in rum is growing as quickly as it was for gin five years ago, and although there are still plenty of interesting new Caribbean rums on the market, the smart money is on the homegrown distilleries. With its tasting notes of toffee and treacle, Cambridge-made Old Salt Rum is one of the few rums to be produced in the UK, and Dark Matter is from a distillery in Aberdeenshire run by the Ewen brothers, Jim and John, who have made a molasses-based spiced rum with hints of long pepper, fresh ginger, green peppercorns and allspice. The newest addition to this British rum revolution is Glasgow’s Wester Spirit Co run by Zander Macgregor and Allan Nairn. Using the latest tech and copper stills, they produce small-batch spiced rum with hints of vanilla and citrus zest.
You can seemingly ‘milk’ anything these days but there’s a huge variety of non-dairy, plant-based milks in the mainstream now, and lots of cafés are starting to make their own. Just Mylk is a small batch organic nut ‘milk’ producer based in Leeds. On average, a conventional one-litre bottle of nut milk contains less than 3% nuts but Just Mylk uses 25% nuts, including almonds, cashews and walnuts (along with filtered alkaline water, medjool dates, vanilla, lavender, raw cacao, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and sea salt). Just Mylk currently sells its ‘mylk’ online and at markets around Leeds but 2019 is sure to see it reach a wider audience.
Still a regular sight in town delicatessens and village fetes around the country, quiche is long overdue a comeback, and we think this classic should be revived this year. Whether it’s a traditional bacon-studded quiche lorraine or a cheese version, who doesn’t like a wobbly, pastry-encased flan with a savoury custard filling and a green salad on the side? Check out our quiche Lorraine with green veggies here.
Since chef James Knappett won two Michelin stars for Kitchen Table, his small counter-dining venue accessed via hidden entrance at the back of casual eatery Bubbledogs in Bloomsbury, the secret may be well and truly out there. But, restaurants within restaurants are a trend we expect to see more of in 2019. The latest example is Kebab Queen, a modern 10-seater kebab restaurant and bar hidden downstairs at Maison Bab in Covent Garden. Run by Stephen Tozer and Ed Brunet (founders of Soho’s Le Bab) and Manu Canales (previously sous chef at the two-Michelin-starred Le Gavroche; pictured), Kebab Queen serves a six-course kebab-centric tasting menu in a room clad with velvet and stainless steel, pink concrete floor tiles and cobalt-blue leather stools.
Cannabidiol oil (CBD), a legal extract from cannabis, is popping up on cocktail lists around the UK and causing quite a buzz. Plant-based restaurant, by CHLOE., has just run a series of pop-ups in London with a range of CBD cocktails and dishes including a chocolate brownie decorated with a marijuana-shaped fondant leaf. Co-founder Samantha Wasser says: “I am a big believer in the benefits of CBD and the potential of this ever-expanding industry. After seeing the overwhelmingly positive response we received from our Daily Hit Brownie in New York earlier this year, I was inspired to create a full line of CBD-infused items for customers in both the US and UK. We hope to help bring CBD to the mainstream just like we did with plant-based food when we first opened by CHLOE. more than three years ago.”
We also spotted (and enjoyed) a CBD-oil-laced Gin & Chronic gin sour at the recently opened Maison Bab in Covent Garden, and a relaxing CBD-infused hot chocolate at London’s Farm Girl chain. And, late last year, Green Times Brewing launched its first craft beer infused with cannabis oil extract, called High Flyer.
With more than 137 million global subscribers, online streaming platform Netflix is one of the biggest platforms in the world for any chef. The Great British Bake Off is already part of Netflix’s expanding food programme coverage and London-based food writer (and olive Chef Awards nominee) Asma Khan has appeared on its Chef’s Table show. With Clare Smyth representing the UK on new cookery competition The Final Table, perhaps the door is now open for a British chef invasion on the global channel in 2019.