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Grace Dent had a series of dining grievances in 2017
Ellie Foreman-Peck

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London Critics and Food Writers Share Their Biggest Grievances of 2017

Ignorant owners, cynical investors, horrible menus — what went wrong in the industry this year

It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, rovers of the industry, critics and professional eaters. This year, the group were asked eight questions, spanning meal of the year to biggest dining grievance. Their answers will appear throughout this week. Responses are related in no particular order; cut, pasted, and unedited below. We’ve had restaurant standbys, most impressive newcomers, the industry in one word, and the top city neighbourhoods of 2017. Now it’s time for something a little different: the occasions, trends and tiny things that irked, annoyed and angered the experts this year.

Grace Dent, former ES Magazine — and soon-to-be The Guardian — restaurant critic:
There were a few...

Bullshit reservation systems that block every useful table out from 7-9 every night. And then no-one is answering the phone. And when you get there it’s empty.

Groups of restaurant management around a table on laptops, while I am eating lunch, having loud staff meetings about the day to day tedium of the restaurant. This is not OK.

Giving a crap place an honest crap review and then hearing the PR has immediately invited 20 muppet infuencers down a week later for an 'informal supper' in order to flood everyones timelines with insincere ’nom nom dat dish do!!’ pics. Shady.

Tristram and Farquar’s big trip: public school boys turning two limp gap year anecdotes into a reason for a restaurant. funded by dad. IDGAF.

Chefs mistaking twatting on about food waste for having a personality.

The Bake Off walking wounded. You’ve had your five minutes, Beryl, now fuck off with your meringues.

Menu: ‘We serve family style folks!!’ Are you a country and western singer? No? Stop it.

‘We serve family style folks, just rock up!!’ (translation: we can’t be fucked to do reservations, or serve you, in fact why not bring an apron and you can do your own peeling)

Investor overkill: chefs, mad idea, why don’t you open one decent place, instead of three rubbish ones and then hire a PR company to harrass me down there... So you can boohoo when I point out inevitably that they’re ALL sub-standard.

Adam Coghlan, Eater London editor: Cynical imports, steered by backers whose concern is the bottom line, over and above food and hospitality. See: vegan restaurant ‘concepts’ and chains the city doesn’t need.

What in the world is Flavour Bastard?

George Reynolds, Eater London contributor: The ongoing diffusion of the Noma influence and the unimaginative but beautifully hygge food it resulted in.

Victoria Stewart, Food writer: "Shall I explain the menu to you?"

James Hansen, food writer, editor and Eater London contributor: The number of times poor calendar management led to visiting Monty’s Deli on a Monday.

The likes of Nobu, Sexy Fish, et al: that such lazy, profiteering cynicism leads to full rooms of surely unsatisfied eaters.

The survival of deconstructed desserts.

Inverted commas on menus.

Emma Hughes, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: Restaurants that don't put a phone number on their website, and then don't reply to emails for days.

"Let me tell you a bit about how the menu works..."

Josh Barrie, food writer and Eater London contributor: Magpie, when it was still all on a trolley. Was very, very new, so fair enough.

Suze Olbrich, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: Plastic cups, straws etc. on the QT.

And a particularly unpleasant GM at Flavour Bastard.

Zeren Wilson, restaurant discoverer and author of Bitten & Written: Punters moaning (on TitAdvisor) about clunky service or shonky food during a ‘soft opening’ period with reduced prices. Get a grip.

Chloe Scott-Moncrieff, food writer and co-founder of the YBFs: Still the restaurants at most London airports leave a lot to be desired, they’re pale imitations of what you get in town.

Sophie Brown, freelance food writer: Having to drink wine out of tumblers.

Felicity Spector, Channel 4 News writer and pastry lover: Places that still put no imagination into veggie option - surely it’s time to embrace the challenge!

Laurel Ives, former food editor of The Sunday Times The Dish: Overpriced small plates that quickly add up to a big bill.

Waiters who don’t know anything about the wine on the list.

No booking policies.

Flavour Bastard

63-64 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 3JW, London,


10 Heddon Street, , England W1B 4BX 020 3903 9096 Visit Website

Sexy Fish

Berkeley Square House, Berkeley Square, London, W1J 6BR Visit Website