Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is a signature blurry look.
News of the week
The fast food burger chain thirst-trap wars continue apace. McDonald’s this week launched its attempt to hold the line against Burger King’s Toto-enhanced PR strategy, taking over its High Street Kensington branch for the invitation-only launch of the Signature Collection. Love Island winners mingled with at least one high-powered restaurant critic and fellow social media influencers to the strains of a string quartet; burgers arrived under silver cloches and were served on the finest tableware. A moment’s reflection might reveal this to be as questionable a strategy as the company’s recent flip-flop on premium coffee, but fortunately there’s a ready-made defence for occasions like this. It’s just top banter.
at #McDonaldsUK where I was #invited to the ridic jokes launch of #TheSignatureCollection line of burgers complete with red carpet, velvet curtains, string quartet and, of course, burgers hand delivered under a silver cloche...obviously. Mega lols - clever. Also clever; making these the thickest McDonald’s patty worldwide cos Brits are all class. Fact. I hit up all 3 of the range cos it’d be rude not to (the smoked bacon ‘CLASSIC’ cheeseburger, the bbq bacon ‘BBQ’ cheeseburger and the jalapeño & Pepper Jack cheese ‘SPICY’ burger) and can confirm these bangers are Super Mario to the Big Mac’s Mario; level up! Look, I know it’s hard to pass on a Chicken Legend; I’ve been there; but this is worth taking a punt on Macca’s fans. TAG A MACCA’S MATE! #ad
Natural Petulance of the week
Maybe harder to file this one under sick bants. As the week in reviews has already summarised, last weekend the Financial Times’ Tim Hayward took issue with the wine list, and broader wine philosophy, at Westerns Laundry, pillorying the various examples served to him with some especially vicious turns of phrase (“It tastes as if someone gave a five-year-old a home-brew kit, some Toilet Duck and an Alka-Seltzer.”) In flagrant contravention of its stated low intervention policy, Westerns then hit back, with a series of posts (five at the time of writing, though others were posted and then deleted) stridently defending its chosen approach. It’s almost like this issue has now entered the realm of pure ideology, or something.
Here is to natural wines and everyone who enjoys drinking it supporting hundreds of wonderful small producers, farmers and wine makers who tend the soil sustainably & responsibly in the face of adversity and criticism, true to their convictions and immersed in knowledge and who help us to re discover the true expression of the fruit #whothecapFiT
Smouldering cover star rivalry of the week
Who will prevail in the battle to be anointed as one of the (new) new gods of food? There can be only one.
Positive groundswell of the week
With a name like Laksamania, the restaurant called Laksamania was always going to face an uphill battle (to recap: because of its name, which is Laksamania.) But over the past couple of weeks, posts have started appearing — many from ‘grammers persuaded, no doubt, by @hollowlegs’ early evangelism. And now look — the honest-to-goodness restaurant critic of The Sunday Times has given it the seal of approval. Can Instagram… Use its powers… For good?
Semantic heavy lifting of the week
They’ve got game of the week
A fleeting category, checking in on how London’s restaurants are serving one of the country’s defining delicacies. Two new entrants this week.
If you go down to the woods today you’re in for a big surprise of the week
Time was that the average punter taking an evening stroll through the copses that adorn Hampstead Heath might have been on the end of something rather more adult than a teddy bear’s picnic. Still — bring it on, #christopherrobinmovie!
How better to celebrate the launch of @Disney’s new #ChristopherRobin movie than with a six course honey-infused tasting menu in the heart of the Hampstead Heath woodland? And what better reason would there be to use the honeypot emoji?! Out August 17th. — P.s nice to see you @clerkenwellboyec1, @jerseytori, @eastlondonmornings, @mylondonfairytales, @immovingtolondon, @thesouthamptongirl. — @disneyuk #christopherrobinmovie #hampstead
Conflicted nigirigram of the week
On the one hand: Instagram is definitely ruining sushi. On the other:
Obligatory envy-inducing holiday snap of the week
The gelato brioche is a rite of passage for any would-be Sicilian Instagrammer. Chefs do it. Critics do it. Welcome to the club, Bob Granleese!
Dish of the week
Shot of the week
Isn’t this how everyone celebrates a successful car boot sale?