It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, 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 and pasted below. Between restaurant standbys, restaurant newcomers, 2018 in a single word, and the city’s best neighbourhoods, much restaurant ground has been covered. Now, it’s the biggest shocks, surprises, and gasps of the year.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: Gordon Ramsay turning up to present the Michelin awards. Marginally more surprising than Michelin awarding Brat, Sabor, Ikoyi, and Leroy with their first stars.
James Hansen, Assistant Editor, Eater London: The number of restaurateurs that thought retroactively rebranding a closed restaurant as a “pop-up” would go unnoticed. The prevalence — and critical acclaim — of discourse around no-shows that refused to engage with the nature of booking engines and their effect on diners’ psychology. The continued limp to survival of GBK. The colour of the jelly on Quality Chop House’s superlative pork pie. The time a prominent restaurant critic used Instagram Stories to compare his industry friends privately supporting him but publicly keeping shtum over accusations of racism to families that refused to hide people fleeing from the Gestapo. Michelin putting its money where its rubber mouth is with some 2019 stars. Sardine remaining pretty unheralded. The absolute, resolute hyping up of 1 (one) chef at a hot new Shoreditch restaurant when there are 2 (two) chefs behind it, at least equally deserving of praise and, for me, in fact deserving a swing the other way.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: Leroy — I thought Ellory was so average, but Leroy was such a warm experience. Old-school service, where everyone is seen as important, in a hyper-cool location. And, you can bring your dog. I loved it!
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: Kissing my partner for the very first time outside Singburi, after a chilli-related mishap.
Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: Much of the best regional Indian food used to be available in areas with large Indian populations such as Wembley, Kenton, Kingsbury, Queensbury, Tooting, Green Street, Harrow and, especially, Southall. This is largely still the case with south Indian in East Ham. However, many of the old stalwarts have now closed or changed hands, or have a very high turnover of chefs. So some surviving places now look tired, with scuffed furniture, an air of neglect and inconsistent food that ranges from mediocre to terrible.
Generally speaking, a lot of young Indians don’t want to take over their parents’ restaurants or work in the industry. They’re mostly in well-paid white-collar jobs, occasionally doing pop-ups and supperclubs on the side. Also, tastes change — so instead of sitting down with a regional speciality that their parents would have enjoyed in their childhood, they’re more interested in dining in smart Indian or non-Indian restaurants with lighter dishes and nice décor. The demise of several long-standing, old-school regional Indian restaurants has been the biggest surprise for me this year.
Emma Hughes, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: How much time I’m prepared to spend on the Victoria line.
George Reynolds, food writer and Eater London contributor: Two dinners: at Etles in Walthamstow and Singburi in Leytonstone. Not so much for the supreme quality of some of the dishes, but for what it indicated about how much the conventional London restaurant “scene” is confined to zone one. New Year’s resolution: get on the tube more.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: Kate’s Café was a glorious discovery.
Helen Graves, food writer at Food Stories and Eater London contributor: Kudu. South African flavours have not been well represented in London. Such a glorious opening menu and the room a plush, dimly lit den on Queen’s Road in Peckham. I hope it thrives.
MiMi Aye, food writer, cookbook author, and Eater London contributor: For me, that a lot of people seemed to dislike Hide. I loved the place when I went — that acorn cake lived up to its gorgeous spectacle.
Zeren Wilson, food writer at Bitten and Written and Eater London contributor: Arch Rivals in Forest Gate. Never expected thrilling cooking to pull me back repeatedly to an E8 railway arch. The outrageous mash-up of Gule Ærter (Danish split pea soup) with Tonkotsu broth, alongside a wedge of crisp pork belly, was certainly a surprise. Infernal.
Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: That the crisp place in Soho is still open.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: The Luto x Sarap Filipino supper club. Never really had Filipino food before and that lechon liempo blew my mind. Over the moon that Sarap is doing a residency at The Sun and 13 Cantons next year.
Leila Latif, Eater London contributor: The bill at 1251: after numerous cocktails and three reorders of the jerk chicken, I was expecting double.