Food trends for 2015? More healthy eating fads? Specialty recipes from unknown countries? Tom Parker Bowles couldn’t care one iota as he is in it for the long term… Here, he tells The Resident Why Alan Yau, Judy Joo, Anna Hansen, Andy Oliver and more are exciting his tastebuds
This will be the year of the bug. Seriously. I’ve heard that Brett Graham will be adding cockroach carpaccio to the menu at The Ledbury, while Michel Roux will celebrate the joys of stinkbugs simmered in the sous vide. Giorgio Locatelli is hard at work whipping up red damselfly ravioli, while Mark Hix is excited about roasting Amazonian Titan beetles – whole – at Hixter. Cheap, sustainable and much under-rated, insects will be hot, hot, hot.
Except, of course, they won’t. Though Lord only knows what half-witted fads will be predicted for the year ahead. I hate trends. No, what I’m after is long-term quality, the sort of place that is consistently brilliant, year after year after year. So when it comes to new openings, I tend to get excited about the places run by restaurateurs with a proven track record of serious eating. Like Alan Yau, who will be opening the long awaited Duck and Rice, a Chinese gastropub in Soho. The man’s a master, the founder of Wagamama, Hakkasan, Yaucha and Busaba Eathai. That’s some list, although when he moves on, some places tend to suffer a drop in quality. He also has Babaji Pide, on the corner of Wardour Street and Shaftsbury Avenue, to look forward to in early 2015, specialising in lahmacun, or Turkish pizza. Plus some high end, Shanghai inspired tucker at Park Chinois in Mayfair, where Automat used to be. With Yau at the helm, this trio is filled with proper eastern promise.
Staying with the Far East, the very talented Judy Joo will be opening JinJu in January, and having tried a few of her dishes, I’m excited. She’s one hell of a cook, and the perfect person to drag real Korean food into the London mainstream. About time too.
Martin Morales was the man who introduced us to real Peruvian food, and his third place, Ceviche Old Street, promises to continue the high standards set by his first two, Ceviche Soho and Andina. And Richard Caring, another restaurateur who ensures standards are kept high across his ever-growing group, has acquired a huge new Berkeley Square site. Although the food is not yet confirmed, I hear whispers of a Nikkei (Japanese/Peruvian fusion, as made popular by Nobu) menu. Very exciting. He’s also taken over the old Henry J Bean’s site on the King’s Road, a place where many a wasted hour was spent in my youth. An all-day grill apparently, which is rather superior to endless vast glasses of luridly sweet cocktails.
Anna Hansen, of ever-wonderful Modern Pantry fame, is currently working on Modern Pantry in the City, while Gordon Ramsay is returning to his roots with his new place in 11 Park Walk, the site of the original Aubergine. Expectations are suitably high.
Proper meat is still in vogue, with a new Upper Street branch of the renowned MeatLiquor opening next summer, while Bad Egg in the City is opening any moment now. It’s the second opening from great chef Neil Rankin, the talent behind Smokehouse. I also hear mutterings about a new chophouse, Jacob’s Ladder, to open next year in Soho. As the restaurant is being advised by those magnificent masters of Hawksmoor meat – Huw Gott, Will Beckett and Richard Turner – I’m drooling at the very thought.
I also know that Kevin Lansdown, one of the city’s great front of houses, will be GM at an as yet unnamed restaurant from Parisian Inaki Aizpitarte (of Le Chateaubriand fame) in Mouth Street. Expect seriously great things.
As for my most eagerly awaited opening of 2015, I’m going small and regional, with Andy Oliver’s Som Saa. Oliver trained under the great David Thompson, did a good stint at Peckham’s wonderful Begging Bowl and already has a pop up Som Saa in London Fields. He’s a master of real Thai food, something that’s all too rare over here. Where Oliver opens, I follow. Have a very happy, and well-fed, 2015.
Three things I did this month
1 Lunch at The Lockhart with a smattering of national food critics. Hell, we ate well. Awesome fried chicken, smoked pheasant, monster ribs and mint juleps. This is American Southern food as fine as you’ll find anywhere. Even the South. High praise, y’all.
2 Yet another lunch at the peerless Barrafina Adelaide Street. I’ve been a dozen times and never had a mediocre bite. Sea urchins, grilled lamb’s kidneys, deep fried brain, oozing tortillas… just perfect.
3 I’d never been to a branch of Itsu before but after one taste, I’m hooked. This is some of the finest healthy fast food in the land, really decent noodle soups and salads and endless sauces which to pimp your lunch. All at a decent price.