The top London food trends for 2015 signal a year of growing up, with smarter, more worldly approaches to food. Look out for the savvy single-option menu, luxe desk-lunching, responsible (rather than cosmetic) eating and ventures into challenging flavours, as well as odd-looking vegetables.
London dining continues to take cues from abroad, and as our appreciation of regional cuisines matures, diners will seek more authentic flavours. The vast array of tastes and techniques to be found across Asia, particularly Thailand, Korea and Japan, will be top of the itinerary. Closer to home, the simple and distinct flavours of Nordic cuisines, and their Teutonic peers in Germany and Austria, will find deeper exploration as a top London food trend for 2015.
Lobster for All
Once the mark of luxury on London menus, lobster is set to become the Capital’s hottest gourmet fast food. A wave of new restaurants specialising in all things lobster are using bulk-buying power to make the mighty crustacean more affordable. This single-ingredient trend still offers an array of choice, with lobster split and steamed whole, enwrapped in rolls, served as just a juicy tail or blended in soup.
Burger & Lobster in Farringdon were the first to conceive a lobster-focused menu. Following in its footsteps, little sister restaurant Smack Deli caters to the lunchtime crowd with luxe shellfish rolls, while Lobster Kitchen and Fraq’s Lobster Shack specialise in East Coast, Maine-inspired seafood with lobster and all the trimmings. For a fresh catch, we recommend a daytrip to Southend-on-Sea to check out Bourgee’s Steak and Lobster lounge.
Whole split lobster with a side of fries and salad at affordable lobster eatery Burger & Lobster
Al Desko Dining
See our earlier Trend Spotlight: Al Desko and the Food-Delivery Revolution here
The revolution against lacklustre lunches finds momentum in Londoners’ growing appreciation of fresh and healthy foods. While leisurely lunches largely remain out-of-reach for desk-bound office workers, they needn’t surrender to uninspiring sandwiches and wraps just yet.
A top London food trend for 2015: al desko delivery from City Pantry
Delivery services such as Deliveroo and City Pantry source and deliver from a variety of independent London restaurants, and with easy-to-use websites and apps, the route from ordering to gourmet desk-lunching is gratifyingly quick and easy.
Unlike more established rivals such as JustEat and Hungry Horse, the start-up Deliveroo focuses exclusively on helping premium eateries to tap into the delivery market. With £2.75m secured in growth capital in 2014, Deliveroo plans to ramp up its national reach throughout 2015.
And it’s not just delivery services that are popping up and embracing the trend; individual restaurants and retailers are developing means of delivery, including coffee giant Starbucks, whose mobile app ‘version of e-commerce on steroids’, is set to introduced in the second quarter of 2015.
Beyond lunch, “anytime-any-place-delivery” is set to become an essential feature of UK dining. As urban density rises (with kitchen floor-space particularly feeling the pinch), consumers’ dining habits will evolve with the emerging delivery market, with regular work or home-delivery becoming the norm.
A top London food trend for 2015: ‘al desko dining’ from Hiba Express and City Pantry
Spicy, Bitter and Sour Flavours
See our earlier Trend Spotlight: Pickling and Fermenting here
As a top London food trend for 2015, Western palates are set to outgrow basic salty and sugary tendencies, and embrace more complex, adventurous and often foreign flavours.
Beyond the bottled Thai chilli sauce Sriracha, chefs and restaurant chains are experimenting with sweet-spicy sauces and condiments, such as piquant jams and honeys with habanero and ghost chili. Expect these whipped into butter, mixed into salad dressings and snuck into sauces in 2015.
Creeping into our food consciousness will also be Berbere, a hot African spice mixture usually made with chilli, garlic, ginger, basil, korarima, rye, ajwain, radhuni, nigella and fenugreek, Turkish Aleppo pepper (a fruity, cumin-like chili), and Baharaat, or Arabic Seven Spice, made from fresh ground pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom.
Also in 2015, sour and fermented flavours will feature in everything from drinks to desserts. Shrubs, fresh fruits preserved in vinegar and sugar, are the latest cocktail trend, while bottled Thai drinking vinegars will be popping-up in shops. We recommend looking out for on-trend fermented ingredients, and produce facetiously labelled as “rotten”.
Bitter flavours are also tipped for revival in 2015. Delve into darker coffees, deeper chocolates, next-generation cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower and collard greens, rich hoppy beers and cocktails with a bite of bitters.
Ugly Food/Kitchen-Waste Upcycling
All hail the ugly root vegetable! Misshapen, knobbly and sprouting, celery root, parsnips and kohlrabi, are grabbing attention in restaurant kitchens for all the right reasons: their taste rather than their looks.
These humble root vegetables are set to replace the potato as a more nutritious side dish with lots more inherent flavour. Fried, mashed, puréed or gratinéed, as a top London Food Trend for 2015, you’re likely to see them any which way but whole.
Yesterday’s greens that are still good to eat: ingredients for the Mind charity’s Christmas Lunch, prepared by Islington Food Cycle
As a responsible adjunct, waste-minimisation campaigns are gaining traction and restaurants are looking to utilise all those offcuts that were once just thrown in the bin. Increasingly adventurous diners will give chefs the opportunity to be creative – think pig’s head croquettes, pickled watermelon rind and homemade lard.
Keep a look out for community initiatives such as Food Cycle, who work with supermarkets such as Waitrose and Planet Organic to source perfectly palatable but just beyond sell-by-date produce.
The Islington Food Cycle Hub is located in mental health charity Mind’s Islington centre, where each week volunteers prepare a donation-optional meal for members of the community. We visited while preparations for a special Christmas lunch (of buttered nut-greens and plump Waitrose geese) were underway.
Upcyling at Islington’s Food Cycle Hub: a top London food trend for 2015
Local Sourcing and Craft Produce
See our earlier piece, London’s Independent Food Neighbourhoods Part I here
The natural next step from local dining, local sourcing is set to take root in 2015 as a top London food trend. Intrepid food entrepreneurs are already producing artisanal foodstuffs such as cured meat, smoked fish and craft beer, soft drinks (cola and ginger beer) and spirits (gin and whisky) within urban centres in London.
In neighbourhoods such as Dalston you can source local eggs, bread, honey, vegetables, smoked salmon, charcuterie, beer and soft drinks that are made or produced within a 5km radius.
Futuristic aquaponics at Dalston’s FARM:shop demonstrate local sourcing, a top London food trend for 2015
FARM:shop in Dalston grows aquaponic salad and vegetables year-round using a fertilising and filtration system powered by fish. The shop, that also runs a café, sells its produce over the weekend, and runs do-it-yourself classes on growing fruit and veg. As a community food centre, FARM:shop rents desk space to food start-ups that follow their artisanal ethos.
Just across the road, the Eastern Curve Garden hosts a community-run vegetable patch that serves an on-site café. Expect similar local initiatives emerging from London neighbourhoods as this top London food trend flourishes in 2015.
Egg-laying hens out back at FARM:shop: an example of local sourcing, a top London food trend for 2015