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A week in review

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London restaurants deliver

We’re staying up to date on all the restaurants that have converted to ghost kitchens, and we’re directing you to all the sites that provide information.

Luxury London reports on local neighbourhood restaurants offering home deliveries, divided by area in London (North, South, East, West, Central).

The Evening Standard divides restaurants into London areas as well, but also includes a wine and cocktail bar section at the bottom. Ladies & Gentleman’s cocktail delivery menu for example features ‘Quarantinis’.

Hot Dinners update their list of London restaurant deliveries regularly, so it’s a good one to save in your tabs.

London On The Inside divides their restaurant delivery list into old favourites and new options. Spoiler Alert, Black Axe Mangal and Rice Error (from the BAO team) are on the list.

Time Out, sorry Time In, gives us a straight-up line-up of London restaurants that have taken matters into their own hands to bring their food to us.

The Infatuation gives us a map with new restaurant delivery & collection options divided by London areas, by situation (brunch, spicy food cravings, vegetarian or vegan, etc.) and a map of bars and restaurants that deliver alcohol as well.

The London Restaurant Co-operative is a not-for-profit social kitchen that brings chef-cooked meals to your door – from members who all recently became unemployed. They offer the same or next day delivery for only £6.50 a meal, with a choice of two different dishes per day (one of them suitable for vegetarians).

Deliveroo has signed almost 3,000 new UK restaurants in the past month, so be sure to check out their page as well for some novel additions.

And finally, if you’re looking for an alternative to the Deliveroo app, Supper connects you to restaurants such as Cinnamon Kitchen, Jean-Georges At The Connaught, and Homeslice. And you can order a fruit tea from YiFang as well.

How else can you help restaurants?

Order their cookbooks, buy their merch (tote bags, mugs, T-Shirts, you name it), purchase vouchers for that birthday you’ll have to postpone celebrating properly until things return to normal, or simply donate – these are some of the things you can do to help our London restaurants. Restaurants that offer vouchers include Kricket, 40ft Brewery, Crispin, and The Cinnamon Collection.

The great things people are doing in the restaurant industry

Lina Stores has raised more than £21,000 to offer free food to those in need. They will also be delivering their food and groceries soon. Michelin-starred chef Andrew Wong has switched from cooking up a feast in his A. Wong restaurant to preparing free food boxes for those who need it the most. And there are plenty of cafés offering free drinks to our NHS workers or restaurants such as Yard Sale Pizza offering discounts to them.

Quoot restaurant group, which includes By Chloe and Dominique Ansel Bakery, is providing free meals to school children, while London-based brewery Pressure Drop is donating £25 to a customer’s pub or restaurant of choice whenever they order 15 or more cans from their website.

For those of us cooking at home, Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski is offering Instagram cooking classes, and Bread Ahead is doing the same for baking. There’s a social media class for making drinks at home as well – 1940s-inspired Soho bar Cahoots, for example, is launching a new social media series on 4th April entitled Cocktails from the Captain’s Larder. Tune in to be taught some of the bar’s amazing cocktails – we can’t wait.

Supermarkets need you

If you’re in need of a job, consider working at a supermarket, because they need all the help they can get. Lidl, Aldi, and Co-op are recruiting 16,500 new store assistants and delivery drivers. Tesco created as many as 20,000 jobs. Other companies hiring are Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Iceland, Amazon, Ocado, Deliveroo, Uber Eats, and Just Eat. And for those of you who would prefer to work in nature, local farms across the UK are in urgent need of workers to help pick and pack fruit and vegetables.

A podcast to listen to

Innovation has become an essential skill during the Covid-19 pandemic, and one chef talks us through the ways in which he is adapting his business during these troublesome times. You can listen to chef Eric Rivera, formerly director of culinary research for Chicago’s Alinea, on the Food Tech Show podcast.

Recipes from chefs

London chefs have changed gear to bring their food to our homes via delivery. But they’ve also been sharing recipes so that we can recreate our favourite dishes at home. You’ll find a recipe for fried rice, courtesy of BAO and XU, and one for Pici Cacio e Pepe from the mastermind behind Padella and Trullo, amongst others. Or if you’ve got some potatoes leftover at home, these five recipes may be just the inspiration you need.

Getting food from wholesalers

We know it’s been difficult these past few weeks to get the food products we need, let alone make an order online. Luckily wholesalers, who would usually deliver to restaurants, have made their products available to the wider public and you can still fill your baskets online. There’s Bestway Wholesale, L.C. Supplies, Regency Foods, Bidfood, JD’s Food Group, Brakes and Café Deli Wholesale. For veggie and fruit boxes, check out New Covent Garden Market and Pale Green Dot, Fresh Pasture Shop for toast bread, yoghurt and milk, and HG Walter for meat.

Getting food from nature

We finish off with a nudge toward this Guardian article by Tom Hunt. You may be comfortable around the kitchen but are now thinking of taking it to the next level, going out in search for food that doesn’t require a trip to the supermarket. Sounds crazy? We assure you it’s not. Collect nettles and dandelion leaves and you’ll have the perfect green, umami-rich chips that’ll become your go-to snack. We know what we’ll be looking out for on our next socially-distanced walk.

Deliveroo London no-contact drop-off service

With official news in that Boris Johnson urges everyone to avoid social contact with others, the timing is right for Deliveroo to offer a no-contact drop-off service starting this week. Customers who wish not to make physical contact with drivers can add a note to their order to request it to be left on their doorstep. Drivers will also receive statutory sick pay for 14 days, should they be diagnosed with Covid-19. The new service gives us all a chance to support our local businesses and those who depend on the hospitality industry for their livelihoods.

Restaurants react…

Restaurants are going cashless, introducing non-contact delivery options, for example, Yard Sale Pizza, or closing their doors altogether. There are also changes in layout to space people further apart and help limit transmission, and restaurants offering ‘buy now, dine later’ vouchers – D&D Restaurants, Bleecker, Kricket, Hawksmoor. Not a restaurant, but also in the hospitality sector, Best Western hotel group is even considering turning their hotels into temporary hospitals.

…while the government doesn’t

Taking matters into their own hands is not something that should be asked of restaurateurs in these economically and morally difficult times. But that is exactly what the government is forcing restaurant businesses to do. Spitalfields noodle bar Noodle and Beer and family-run Chinese restaurant Silk Road are two of many that have decided to close shop for now – a far from easy decision. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has stopped short of a mandate, only issuing advice to ‘avoid’ restaurants, bars, and pubs, meaning the government isn’t responsible for covering businesses’ lost revenue. And neither will the £12 billion coronavirus relief package offer much relief, with the vast majority of (central) London restaurants not qualifying for it.

A regularly updated list of London restaurant closures and changes can be found at Eater.

Coronavirus may speed up the switch to online shopping

Before Coronavirus happened, experts predicted that less than 10% of the UK grocery market would be online by 2024. A decade ago this prediction was 40%. Discounters such as Lidl and Aldi, as well as convenience stores, have seen more growth at supermarkets than online shopping. Thanks to Covid-19 and people increasingly spending both their work and leisure time at home, this may be about to change.

Vegan restaurant meals have high levels of salt

And in non-Coronavirus related news, most vegan restaurant meals in the UK are found to have high levels of salt. According to non-profit organisation Action on Salt, 80% of tested meals would attract a red traffic light label and some contain more than the daily recommended intake. The survey analysed 290 curries, pizzas, and other dishes offered at 45 restaurant, fast food, takeaway, and coffee chains throughout the UK. Papa John’s and Bella Italia were one of the worst offenders, with 9.28g salt in a Papa John’s American hot medium pizza (more salt than in seven McDonald’s hamburgers) and 8.1g salt in a Bella Italia’s vegan cheese pizza.

Fine dining restaurant operates out of a dark kitchen

The Cookout Club is a delivery-only fine dining restaurant that is based in a ghost kitchen in Battersea, London. Led by Michelin-starred chef Philip Britten, the restaurant prepares fresh, seasonal meals such as chicken liver parfait dressed with olive oil and watercress salad, or glazed barbary duck, sauced with red wine, red cabbage, and glazed onions. Two courses will cost no more than £20 per person, because The Bookout Club spends no money on waiters, sommeliers, silverware, or crockery and currently delivers to Brixton, Battersea, Clapham, Wandsworth, Balham, Kennington, Vauxhall, Lambeth, and parts of Kensington and Chelsea. If you don’t live in any of those areas, look out for their expansion, with two further restaurants projected to open this year.

Restaurant vintage clothing store hybrid

Hybrid stores have been a growing trend, and Cha Cha is one of the early birds to catch on. You might be familiar with Cha Cha’s Mediterranean and Latin American-inspired food in Maida Vale and Mayfair, but the four-floor building at the new Notting Hill site is more than just a restaurant. Sister Jane is the vintage-inspired clothing label that will have its own store above the ground-floor restaurant and a studio on the second floor. The roof terrace includes a cocktail bar and a secret garden. Visitors will be encouraged to wander about all areas of the building, drink in hand. Shopping while drinking or drinking while shopping? We can’t wait to give it a try.

News from across the pond

Philadelphia-based coffee brand La Colombe has teamed up with beverage tech startup HeatGen to create self-heating coffee cans. Users twist the bottom of the can to activate a chemical reaction that will heat the coffee to about 54 degrees Celsius within two minutes. The two launch flavours are La Colombe Brazilian with Milk + Sugar and an unsweetened La Colombe Brazilian Single Origin. The $5 product, which was in development for five years, is currently available at La Colombe’s flagship Fishtown location only. But our hope is the planned larger rollout in Wegmans supermarkets will lead to other companies catching on so that we can enjoy an on-the-go self-heating coffee as well.

Starbucks and Nespresso caught up in child labour row

Channel 4’s TV show Dispatches has exposed children in Guatemala working 40-hour weeks in taxing conditions to pick coffee for a daily wage roughly equivalent to the price of a latte. The beans that were picked by children at all 12 farms the production team visited are supplied both to Starbucks and Nespresso, which is owned by Nestlé. The TV show calculated that even though 25p of a £2.50 coffee goes to the company as pure profit, only 10p is left for coffee suppliers, of which 1p goes to the farmer who uses a fraction of this pay coffee pickers. It’s evident that the payment system requires restructuring to put an end to child labour and distribute wages more fairly.

M&S expands trial of fill-your-own container scheme

With a successful first trial run and 25 out of 44 products offered loose outselling packaged equivalents, Marks & Spencer will be extending is trial of their refill scheme. It was devised in reaction to research made by the retail giant which revealed that more than three in four customers are trying to reduce the amount of packaging they use. The 44 packaging-free products on trial in Southampton range from coffee to confectionery and will be expanded this month to include a second store in Manchester. We think the move is only the beginning for fill-your-own grocery shopping at large retailers, which independent retailers have already been offering for a while.

Chlorinated chicken isn’t off the table yet in U.S. trade talks

As the U.K. continues to negotiate trade deals with the U.S. and other countries, chlorinated chicken is still a hot topic. The EU has told Boris Johnson’s U.K. government to take chlorine-washed chicken off the table if he is to achieve a post-Brexit bilateral deal with the EU. But whether or not Boris Johnson agrees is still anyone’s guess.

Should we be concerned if chlorinated chicken is introduced to the U.K. market? The simple answer is yes. It boils down to three reasons. First, chlorinated chicken translates to poorer animal welfare standards. Why? Because bathing chicken in disinfecting chlorine can cover up poor organisational standards such as keeping chickens in a tiny space, which increases the risk for cross-contamination.

Second, it will put U.K. chicken farmers out of their jobs. Why? US chlorinated chickens will be cheaper because it costs less money to chlorine-wash them than it does to uphold higher safety standards. For those of us who are less concerned about price (or don’t think about what lower cost chicken means for safety standards, or aren’t in a position to choose standards over affordability), chlorinated chicken will be the product we go for.

Third, we don’t know for sure if chlorine-washed chicken is safe for us to consume. In the EU, the law states that products must be tested for food safety before they are used. In the U.S., food products are assumed safe until found to be dangerous. Safe until proven otherwise, rather than risky until proven safe. In the U.S., it’s not just chlorinated chicken that raises questions of concern.

Michelin ceremony to go public

Michelin’s annual ceremonial unveiling for the U.K.’s and Ireland’s Michelin stars will be open to the public in 2021. The ticketed event will allow members of the public to express their support or dismay in person rather than with comments on a Facebook livestream. It seems like another move from Michelin to give viewers the illusion of more control. Only last year the guide started crowdsourcing photos on Instagram for its next London guide – photos, not opinions.

Pizza Pilgrims launches pizza academy

As more and more pizza joints spring up across the capital, Pizza Pilgrims is due to launch its first pizza academy in Camden this month. The on-site pizzeria’s profits will be used entirely to fund the training academy. Meant for anyone who needs a fresh start, including ex-offenders and ex-homeless, the academy will provide a genuine qualification for its graduates. The training also includes business theory and the opportunity for participants to put their new-found skills to the test in the adjacent pizzeria. We’re excited to find out more.

One-month special pizza

In other pizza news, Yard Sale is teaming up with artist Jessie Ware for a one-month only pizza based on the ‘Jewish-ish’ chapter of her new cookbook. Called ‘The Friday Night Full House,’ it is Yard Sale’s signature double-fermented dough topped with thinly sliced beef brisket, cola braised onions, smashed potato latkes, and fresh dill pickles. As if that weren’t novel enough, there’s also a sour cream and horseradish dip to go with it. If you like food-themed t-shirts, there’ll be one of those to buy too. Available at all Yard Sale locations, 3rd March – 3rd April.

Kelis’ milkshake pop-up

Another Yard in the news, Kelis is bringing milkshake pop-up The Yard to town for just two days (18th-19th March). It’s one of many pop-ups and restaurant openings this month, but as soon as we heard about it, we can’t get the Kelis tune out of our heads – “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.” The milkshakes on offer are based on the Kaleidoscope album released in 2000, including a Millionaire shortbread milkshake topped with edible $100 bills.

New immigration laws affect the hospitality industry

There has been much outcry at the UK government’s categorisation of people working in hospitality as “low-skilled” and not eligible for post-Brexit visas. The new proposal outlined by the Home Office includes a “points-based” immigration system. Visa applicants will need to demonstrate the ability to speak English at a certain level, provide proof of a confirmed job offer, and earn more than £25,600.

The level drops to £20,480 if the position is in a “specific shortage role,” but currently this does not include kitchen staff. This means that EU visas will not be handed out for entry-level hospitality jobs such as kitchen porters, waiters, and baristas as well as many jobs in hotels.

Many restaurant critics and restaurant owners have spoken up about the government decision. Asma Khan, founder and head chef of Darjeeling Express, has commented on Instagram: “I want the PM to come serve tables in my restaurant for one day – then we can discuss what level of skills are needed in hospitality.” Restaurant critic Marina O’Loughlin tweeted: “Dear Govt, huge thanks for helping bugger the UK hospitality industry.” Sign Laura Christie and Selin Kiazim’s petition to revoke Priti Patel’s categorisation of “unskilled” hospitality workers.

Social media adds to pressure on restaurants

In this day and age, restaurants are expected to have a presentable Instagram account, with images showing the best side of their menu’s dishes. But posting images on a daily basis means putting time aside to produce them, or paying someone to do so – something which many restaurants with low-profit margins cannot afford. Under the pressure to post, restaurant owners can sometimes cave and use stock photos on social media. It’s a short-term fix but can spell trouble in the long-term when people’s expectations don’t match what they end up getting in the restaurant.

Angie Mar London pop-up

New York chef Angie Mar is coming to London for a one-week pop-up in the City. Her restaurant Beatrice Inn, one of the most popular dining spots in NYC, has seen guests such as Samuel L. Jackson, Emma Stone, and Daniel Craig. She will take residency at D&D London’s New Street Grill for six days in March, and if all goes well, she may even open a permanent restaurant in the future. We’re as excited about it as she is about London.

£149 Gold Pizza at New Soho Da Michele

L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele opened its Soho outpost just last week. Rarely anything has been scrapped from the Baker Street menu, but there are plenty more additions. One of them is a £149 Gold Pizza with shellfish bisque, a shaving of pressed dried caviar, and lobster medallions covered with 24ct gold leaves and royal caviar. Aside from pizza, you can now also enjoy pasta and other mains such as Catalana Lobster.

Satay Street Café launches

Satay Street has been trading at various markets in East London over the past eleven years, including Petticoat Lane Market, Old Street WeWork, and Shoreditch High Street Market. After some complications with the local council, it is finally opening a permanent site later this week. The satay which owner Som Boonchan and her team serve was passed down to her from her mother while growing up in Bangkok. Other items on the menu are inspired by Bangkok’s street food markets.

Nigerian tapas restaurant Chuku’s opens in Tottenham

Billed as London’s first and only Nigerian tapas restaurant, Chuku’s has opened its permanent site in Tottenham. The small-plates menu is focused on sharing, with a range of meat and plant-based dishes. Sibling founders Ifeyinwa and Emeka Frederick have organised pop-ups for Chuku’s at several locations across the capital since 2016. Several of their signature dishes have made it onto the permanent site’s menu, including beef meatballs peppered with suya spice, and plantain waffles topped with blueberries, maple syrup, and dairy-free ice cream. We’ll take a bite of that.

Warner Bros’ Park Row

Yes, you read that correctly, Warner Bros. has teamed up with Wonderland Restaurants to give us a Gotham City, Batman-themed immersive dining experience. The five-zone restaurant includes a speakeasy, an Iceberg Lounge with live entertainment, and a grand theatre with 360-degree projection mapping and a multi-sensory tasting menu. Magician Chris Cox is to make an appearance as well. We. Cannot. Wait.

Kebab on a double-decker

If you’re into eating kebabs on public transport, you’re in luck. Because now you can do so without the glaring looks of fellow passengers. Last Stop Kebab is a kebab restaurant inside a double-decker bus in Edmonton, North London.

The owner, Firat Amara, bought the bus back in December and spent two months fitting it out to seat as many as 40 customers. He and his colleagues also made space for some tables, chairs, a tiny kitchen, and the doner kebab machine. Firat gets his gas, electricity, and water from the supermarket next door that he part-owns.

The innovative restaurant has been very popular on social media and it’s become somewhat of a destination that people travel to from all over London. Residents and employees of North Middlesex hospital are also benefitting from the new restaurant addition since the closest one used to be no less than a 20-minute walk away.

More South-African in London

South African-inspired Kudu in Peckham is expanding, but still within their ‘hood. Smokey Kudu, a 37-cover cocktail bar, has already launched. Feast on cocktail creations that include rooibos, Amarula and South African brandy. Little Kudu is due to open in March. It will be more informal than big Kudu, with bar stools, high tops of four, tapas-style food and wine.

The fish and chips debate

The reaction of one man to Grace Dent’s review of a chippy in Penrith caused quite the stir this week. He claimed that anyone would be mad to eat the batter of a fish and chips meal because its only purpose is to protect the fish during frying. We’re not sure what the right answer is but we haven’t entirely dismissed the possibility. In the early days, the batter might well have acted as a preservative only to be thrown away.

Restaurant takeaway is UK’s fastest-growing sector

We hate to say it – we love a good social get-together or a nice home-cooked meal – but the restaurant takeaway sector in the UK is the fastest-growing one yet. NPD Group’s report shows an increase in UK food deliveries of 39% in the past three years. In another study, 28% of consumers in the UK ordered more meal deliveries than in the previous year. Food delivery businesses such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo are really having their moment. The click-and-collect strategy many restaurants have adopted is also proving to be very profitable.

Rave reviews for Mei Mei

The counter café under a railway arch at Borough Market offers traditional Singapore food and dreamy Hainanese chicken rice. The food is the star at this eatery. Tim Hayward describes Mei Mei’s Kaya toast as “flat-out, howl-at-the-moon filthy good.” Jimi Famurewa mentions the “small, smiley team of chefs.” And for Ibrahim Salha it’s the fried chicken cutlet he can’t stop thinking about. After such descriptions, we can’t stop thinking about Mei Mei either. We know what we’ll be having this week.

Valentine’s Day

If you are set to spend the big date night alone this Valentine’s Day, fear not, because Tastecard have crafted a pop-up restaurant in Hackney, London where you don’t need anything else but your own company. How? Why, with mirrors of course! The twist comes at the end when the person is revealed who sat at the other side of your own reflection. Tastecard also crafted contradicting messages, it seems.

For those of you who have a date and would like things to be a bit clearer, there are plenty of options for that romantic dinner this coming Valentine’s Day. From a meal with a view to candle-lit dinners and personal serenades, we’ve got you covered.

Veganuary in numbers

Veganuary last month was big, bigger than ever in fact. Worldwide, a record 400,000 people signed up to the campaign that was started in the UK in 2014. Only three countries have not had any signatories participate, but plenty of businesses are creating and selling more and more vegan products.

Rising rents equal restaurant bankruptcy

The last week has been less jolly for the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation. Two of their Michelin-starred restaurants entered administration due to unpaid taxes. The Square was shut down by administrators in the middle of lunch service. Umu, which specialises in Japanese cuisine, continues to trade while administrators seek interest from potential buyers. In a statement, the corporation explained that it had not been able to keep up with costs due to a dramatic rise in rents and rates in the last few years.

New Padella

Restaurants come and go, but we hope the latest Padella branch is here to stay. The pasta joint is due to open its second restaurant on Phipp Street in Shoreditch, just before Valentine’s Day. You’ll find Borough Market classics such as pici cacio e pepe and beef shin ragu, and some additions as well, such as fritti on antipasti.

Big Jo bakery

We’re also extremely excited about Jolene’s new Big Jo bakery to open in North London’s Hornsey Road, although this won’t happen until May this year. Its current bakery-restaurant-hybrid in Newington Green is a neighbourhood favourite and has seen rave reviews. Set the date in your calendars, because the Hornsey bakery will be huge, with everything from grain silos to pizza ovens and even a small fermentation lab for drinks.

Coronavirus and racism

The coronavirus from Wuhan in China is on everybody’s mind these days, but have we given thought to how it could wrongly be associated with a person’s food culture and race? Let’s stick to the facts and take precautions such as washing our hands whenever we go outside and come into contact with anyone.

Olympic Park restaurant

For those of you in the Stratford area, look forward to the huge ‘flying saucer’ restaurant which will open at the entrance to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park within the next year. The new landmark building, called The Pavilion, will be a three-floor restaurant made almost entirely from sustainable timber, with a ground floor café and brasserie, first-floor restaurant, and rooftop bar with views over the park. Summer 2021, we’re ready for you!

Dominique Ansel Treehouse

Dominique Ansel fans rejoice because the Cronut inventor is opening a new London bakery and bistro in Covent Garden on 7th February. You won’t find Cronuts there, but expect puff pastry, shortcrusts for savoury pies, and handmade bonbon-shaped caramel pasta. Oh and a sourdough made from an 8-year old starter culture hailing from the Cronut place of origin itself: New York.

Silo

In other news, much talked about zero-waste restaurant Silo in Hackney received a visit from hip hop star Loyle Carner as part of a school trip he organised. Yes, it’s true, he runs a cookery school called Chilli Con Carner for children with ADHD. Denounced by The Guardian food critic Grace Dent, but lauded by The Times food critic Marina O’Loughlin, Silo is dividing opinions. We think Silo’s approach of involving customers in the zero waste process by gently educating them about it is admirable. If done in the right way, learning about food can make it more enjoyable and not less, contrary to what Dent seems to suggest.

Officina 00

Officina 00 in Shoreditch has started offering pasta making masterclasses. The restaurant, the name of which references the fine-milled double-zero flour that is used to make the ravioli, corzetti, etc., prides itself on the freshness and exceptional quality of its pasta – in all its shapes and forms. Watch them at work, or learn the secrets of Officina 00’s recipes during one of their two to three-hour workshops.

Kitgum Kitchen

Meanwhile, East African-Indian inspired pop-up Kitgum Kitchen is seeking investment on Kickstarter for its debut restaurant in Brighton. The concept was created by Fayaz Amlani and his partner Susie Bates. Amlani’s parents were born in Uganda to Gujarati migrants, which makes his childhood food a fascinating fusion between two very different cultures. Rolex will be one of the restaurant’s specialties – a chapatti wrapped around a thin omelette, with spiced potato, pickled carrots, and tamarind.

Lost Society Putney

In southwest London’s Putney, bar Lost Society Putney is due to open in February this year. Expect industrial glam with a healthy amount of botanicals. An open-plan seating area includes velvet furniture and the menu will consist of a selection of craft beer, in-house cocktails, and food.