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Two London Restaurant Titans Battle for Instagram Supremacy

Plus everything else London’s diners, chefs, restaurants, and influencers were eating on the feed last week

Coal Drops Yard King’s Cross restaurant Barrafina and Soho restaurant Berenjak from JKS Restaurants did battle on London restaurant Instagram with Michelin star restaurant Bibendum

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is deadlock.

Tense build-up presaging big news of the week

Films in the much-loved Japanese kaiju genre follow a pretty similar formula. An opening act of mysterious, troubling incidents that hint at frighteningly ambiguous danger; a handful of concerned people trying to get the authorities to understand that something terrible is coming; a final reel in which the mythical beast(s) finally surface, wreaking untold havoc. Autumn’s big restaurant beasts are just starting to emerge from the depths, as first glimpses from the Hart Bros’ projects at Coal Drops Yard and JKS Restaurants’ latest opening Berenjak trickle through into the mainstream. Don’t expect any respite — just sit back and watch the spectacle unfold.

Feed-clogging event of the week
To Freemasons’ Hall, for the annual Observer Food Monthly awards — catered this year by veritable darling of the London restaurant scene Tomos Parry. As ever: a veritable who’s who of food-related talent; a veritable ‘WTF is that’ of bizarro goodie bag content. Lovely stuff.

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OFM awards

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Reality check of the week
In their heart of hearts, everyone secretly thinks that they could run a restaurant. Buy some ingredients, cook them, sell them to people for five times the price — what could be easier? This week, Instagram provided a couple of case studies exemplifying the day to day quandaries of restaurant operations — the slings and arrows that can knock even the most established names off kilter. Doesn’t look so easy now, does it?

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Week 14 ( ) of owning a pub. You’d think it gets easier. It doesn’t. This week - 1 kp walked out, one suddenly couldn’t work for personal reasons. 5 no show trials. 1 chef with a broken wrist. 1 with a bad burn. 1 with the squits. 1 on holiday. We are a team of 7.... all that with a record week. Will we have at least made a few quid? Probably not. Still a way to go on that front. The hardest thing is dealing with the anxiety of what can go wrong next, and of how these struggles affect our team. Prepping for a huge Sunday roast starts on Wednesday with the gravy going on, Thursday with some base veg prep and so on. Our kitchen still needs lots of work doing to be able to cope with this level of business, so it’s hard. It’s bloody hard. The struggles of this week made this Sunday a real stretch to get ready for, yet we served a roast (pictured) I’m incredibly proud of. Under the 45 day-aged sirloin of beef is a silky celeriac purée, braised red cabbage, heritage carrots, crispy roasties with horseradish cream alongside proper roasties and a good old yorkie. I’m so lucky to have @chefbenburn @yazgodfrey & @mayahenriksen they all did so much above and beyond this week to make it happen. A wise soul once told me there’s family, friends and work, and you’ll only ever do 2 out of 3 well. I’m not sure I’m doing any of the 3 at the moment but having an amazing team at the pub certainly helps a great deal. Onwards and upwards!

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Disappointingly short-lived renaissance of the week
When Calum Franklin first took Instagram by storm, it looked like pies would be the must-have dish of 2018. The hottest summer on record probably put paid to that, but now the mercury is finally dropping again, perhaps this great British tradition will once again rise to prominence. Here’s a pair of cracking examples to start things off.

Premature jubilation of the week
Instagram is the only medium where the curious phenomenon of Christmas in July is widely celebrated, so it’s perhaps not too surprising to see the first snowflakes of cheer blowing into feeds before Halloween. On the plus side, forget the cheap and tawdry corporate tie-ins: this looks pretty banging.

Fun with hashtags of the week
This column previously hailed legendary (and, it would appear, opinionated) French chef Pierre Koffmann as a fun account to follow — but he’s really taken it to the next level in the last few days, with some excellent hashtaggery accompanying his usual travels around London’s restaurants. As tags go, #beagleapproved certainly beats #foodporn.

Rival dishes of the week
It’s a St. John death match!

Shot of the week
It was only last instalment that two two-Michelin-starred restaurants were ravaged left, right and centre by critics who really know their roscoffs from their cipolline. Thank goodness that Claude Bosi’s Bibendum is here to show everyone how this high-end gastronomy thing is really done.

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website


27 Romilly Street, , England W1D 5AL 020 3319 8120 Visit Website


81 Fulham Rd, London, Greater London SW3 6RD +44 20 7590 1189 Visit Website