Welcome back to Insta Stories, the Eater column that examines the London restaurant scene through the sometimes problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is whatever they used on this.
News of the week
A rare instance where “real world” news cuts through to Instagram’s peculiar bubble, perhaps because the place at the heart of the story owes at least some of its success to the medium itself. P Franco’s rise from overlooked wine shop to restaurant of the year is inconceivable without a social media narrative as wild and organic as any of the wines it serves: those first curiosity-baiting shots of William Gleave’s enchantingly gorgeous presentations, the later early adopters getting in as Gleave handed over the reins to Tim Spedding, before 2016 turned into 2017, the year it went truly foodie-set viral. With Gleave back in charge at the new place, it’s unlikely the cycle will repeat itself: this time, it’s going to be huge from the get-go. Will that change its unique, magic-in-a-bottle-of-Gravner vibe? Only time (and lots and lots of ‘grams) will tell.
Feed-clogging event of the week
Despite the launch of Russell Norman’s new book making a last-minute push for supremacy, there could only ever be one winner in this category. If, three years ago, someone said that London’s hottest ticket would cost nigh-on fifty quid and involving standing around in a confined space eating spicy mince, mild surprise would be the outcome at the very least. But this is 2018, the year of exactly that, the year… of LARB BAR.
Laboured caption pun of the week
Stop trying to make fetch happen of the week
Emerging aesthetic of the week
If Bill Addison can make up labels for new Instagram aesthetics, then this column can, too. For your consideration: Beans Cooked In Rainwater. A little bit Rachel Roddy cucina povera, a little bit Little Duck The Picklery seasonal braise, it’s all about pulses, grains and tubers slow-coddled until 1970s-cookbook beige. It’s the logical conclusion to the backlash against the first wave of Instagram glossiness, but where #uglydelicious championed things that weren’t actually all that ugly (my, how hideous), this is all about things that are properly, genuinely unphotogenic. Maybe there’s more than a touch of virtue-signalling about it, maybe it has simply found its perfect cultural moment as consumers kick back against the sparkly but false alternate reality social media has created. If that’s the case, maybe there’s also some weird doublethink going on, since we are still using the same platform to announce our rejection of its paradigms. Maybe people just like some beans. Whatever the case, keep an eye on it — the smart money says it’s not going anywhere soon.
Curious behaviour of the week
Portmanteau #lifestylegoals account @jacksonandlevine is a regular “borrower” of other Instagram users’ images. Serious, non-snarky question: is this acceptable behaviour? Is it really any different to retweeting, for example? One answer is that Instagram is a medium where people can be creative and share their own or others work; another is that in 2018 it’s just another channel through which to amplify a brand. But hey, it’s all about engagement. Perhaps a more pressing question is: why doesn’t Skye McAlpine invest in some more bowls?
Dish of the week
Shot of the week, on the assumption it’s not a laborious composition of the week, which, marginal