Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is an appealing blend of green and beige.
News of the week
For a certain kind of natural wine / east London small plates nerd, the opening of 2018 is not Tomos Parry’s Brat or Ollie Dabbous’ Hide — it’s Bright, the first restaurant proper (whatever that means) from the P Franco team. The past seven days has seen a drip feed of menu- and actual food-snaps from Will Gleave and Pepe Belvedere’s kitchen; being in the fortunate position of being able to take and share them is the ultimate sign that you’re one of the in-crowd. Think ubercool fermentation queen and food writer Olia Hercules, or Som Saa’s John Chantarasak, or former Noma fixer Ali Kurshat Altinsoy. Think, ultimately, Shoreditch rehabilitator-in-chief James Lowe (of Lyle’s), whose blessing indicates exactly what sort of person Bright will appeal to.
Upcoming feed-(and-artery-)clogging event of the week
For a certain kind of full-flavoured meat-sweat cuisine nerd, the opening of 2018 is not Tomos Parry’s Brat or Ollie Dabbous’ Hide, it’s Temper 3 (T3MP3R?), the new pizza/pasta/ragu-focused (Italian?) restaurant from Neil Rankin, currently running a “soft launch.” PR special forces unit Gemma Bell and Co is already on the case, so expect the next few days to feature all manner of enthusiastic, highly laudatory geotagged content. First up...
This is no ordinary pizza folks ... it’s a ‘bar pizza’ - thin crust where the cheese goes right to the edge and goes all crispy and delicious. Loved the whole burrata on this one just starting to ooze! It’s served alongside Detroit deep-pan pizzas, ragus and pastas @frontlinechef’s brand new (and bloody gorgeous!) @temperlondon restaurant in Covent Garden. It’s a beauty! . . . #pizza #barpizza #temperlondon #temperrestaurant #coventgarden #newrestaurant #eaterlondon
Meat-free offering of the week
If this column can do any good on this earth, it might as well highlight some of the more intriguing vegan and vegetarian menus on the market, given how opportunistically and cynically every big brand seems to be thirsting after the “meat-free” pound. And so, after Calum Franklin won the inaugural award last week, it’s off to north London, and Oldroyd. There are many ways to make vegetables taste delicious but, as the Japanese found when Portuguese traders introduced them to peixinhos da horta some four hundred years ago, deep-frying them in batter is always a good place to start.
Bold seafood-related Instagram claim (Instaclam?) of the week
The Cornwall Project’s Matt Chatfield is not one to mince his words or pull punches. Given his day-to-day (encouraging relationships between Cornish suppliers and London restaurants), though, he’s probably pretty well qualified to make pronouncements like this.
Influencer conspicuous consumption of the week
One of the (many) lies that Instagram can tell is that everyone is having a better time than you. Influencers, in particular, thrive on making it look like they are living the most gilded existence imaginable; an illusion of abundant consumption — more food than the average person could ever contemplate ordering, let alone eat — is central to this. It’s also kind of gross, in a world where — even in wealthier societies — food poverty is still very much a real thing. Serious question: what happens to fifteen burgers once the camera shutter clicks shut for the last time? Maybe they’re all going to a good home, but if they’re wasted, it becomes just another reason to wonder whether influencer marketing is in fact a waste of time.
Dishes of the week
It doesn’t quite represent a *menu* of the week, but Noble Rot’s kitchen this week has been on absolute overdrive, cranking out three deeply seasonal, intensely delicious-sounding specials. First an asparagus and Roquefort quiche, then more asparagus (this time with morels and Vin Jaune sauce), followed by this, the ne-plus-ultra of French neoclassical revivals:
Shot of the week
This week’s winner in the increasingly overcrowded seafood-with-perfect-accompaniment category: