Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is Clarendon, deal with it.
News of the week
Gretchen, stop trying to make Forest Bar and Kitchen happen! Before Walthamstow’s Answer To P Franco, there was just plain old P. Franco, a once-obscure, now-famous wine bar whose semi-regular chef handovers kept the place infused with fresh blood. This week saw the reins change hands once again, with George Tomlin taking over. It’s early days, but there seems to be a Tim Spedding-esque interest in Japanese flavours; this could be very special indeed.
Feed-clogging event of the week
This year’s Scotch Egg Challenge left Instagram feeling constipated, as the star-studded panel of judges and participants competed to bless the timeline with the most egg-related content in the shortest possible time. The recently-proclaimed king of #analpastry may not have won the thing outright, but few bettered him for sheer ‘grammability. In this column’s eyes, at least, this means there’s only one winner.
Virality watch AKA Baewatch
The subject of a recent Five To Try recommendation, no less, Pophams Bakery has had a big week online. The recipe to its success is pretty simple: mix equal parts attention-grabbing flavour combinations, laminated patisserie offering all sorts of light-catching angles and textures, cold winter sunshine streaming in through massive windows, and the sort of stonewear to die for. It helps that the stuff also tastes pretty good, but not as much as one might think.
Menu of the week
Restaurants — put your menus on Instagram more often! Sure, it’s a predominantly visual medium, but with the odd exception, most of the people on it have a basic command of literacy. A bit of text is a welcome way of breaking up the homogeneity of the feed, plus words can appeal to something that pictures necessarily constrain: the imagination. Who could not rejoice in the minimalist poetry of ‘Pâté in a Bun’, or ‘Northern Thai Style Brisket Sausage with Hot Mint’, regardless of what they eventually taste like? This week’s winner is a masterpiece in stoking exactly this sort of feverish speculation, production values be damned.
Laborious composition of the week
As with the Hashtag MIA gong periodically handed out, there’s a danger that this award could become synonymous with just one person: globetrotting ‘grammer/model @millykr, who — judging by the vertiginous shots that litter her profile — must either be exceptionally tall or in possession of a very nifty drone. Unfortunately, one on-trend shot from Pophams aside, she hasn’t really been in London this week, so the award must go to another master of the medium for a simply gorgeous shot of the food at the new Jidori. Who doesn’t love it when all of their food arrives right at the same time and is placed on the table to beautiful, symmetrical effect?
So much for @jidoriuk which opened their second site in #London's Covent Garden last night! Banging cocktails, robata grilled skewers, pan fried dumplings and melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked duck were just some of the highlights! There's even going to be a karaoke room soon! Massive congrats to @brettredman and Natalie Lee-Joe ...though gutted to see @mwputman leaving us for sunny Oz || Bookings via their website! . . . Thanks for the preview @purplepr || #ThisIsLondon #Yakitori #LondonFood @coventgardenldn @London
Dish of the week
It’s minus who-knows-what degrees out there; in such conditions, the mind turns not to complicated flavours or ornate presentations but to pure comfort. Venison mince and buttery mash works just right.
Shot of the week