Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is pretty in pink.
News / Event / Insta-Singularity of the week
When it first announced the 2018 Wilderness line-up, Eater London suggested that it might be one of the bigger events in the industry’s social calendar. But it would be hard to overstate quite how monolithic the festival was for a few fleeting days this week, as influencers, chefs, wine enthusiasts, critics and even boring old paying members of the public descended on a field in Oxfordshire to eat food readily accessible to them in London.
Festival-going in the Instagram era is an interesting exercise in performative enjoyment — the right to post FOMO-inducing images is basically part of the goodie-bag of stuff purchased at the same time as event wristbands and boutique camping passes. Combine it with the dynamics of food Instagram and the results could be disastrous, a homogenous feed full of Insta-smug backslaps and industry in-jokes.
Largely, this year’s festival seems to have escaped this pitfall. The #ads and #invites from big brands and Grandes Marques unsurprisingly flew thick and fast — underlining the potency of events like these as marketing tools, as well as introducing prospective consumers to some inadvertently hilarious corporate account handles (@sanpellegrinofruitbeverages has got to be worth a follow, surely). But in general the sheer variety of dining, drinking, and other kinds of experiences available stopped things from feeling too monotonous. Furthermore — dishes from the chef’s table dinners and long-table banquets aside — there wasn’t anything hugely Instagrammable about much of the festival’s food offering (street stuff on a paper plate, mostly, plus the occasional slab of gammon). Factor in the blissful weather (and terrible phone signal!) and the overall impression under the ubiquitous ‘Cornbury Park, Charlbury’ geotag is of people actually having a good time rather than pretending to. It’ll never catch on in London.
Intriguing curiosity of the week, Part I
This could be well worth a look: one of the most forward-facing kitchens in the city just cutting loose and having fun for a couple of weeks. It will be fascinating to see what, if anything, happens to The Laughing Heart once the full team returns and it reopens for good later this month.
Hey everyone. For the coming two weeks in August we are mixing it up. The staff are on leave. Tom & I are sticking around to put a coat of paint on the place and have decided to open on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays from 6:30 until about midnight, later if we are feeling it. The menu may be shorter, it may be all Chinese food or only working from the grill, we may have some friends hanging out helping or it may just be the two of us making it happen. There will be no reservations, but you can always call/text/email us if you're desperate to bring a big group down while we freestyle. I'll post some updates later in the week. Come & hang out with us on our Summer holiday at home - I hope it's a fun, relaxed experience for everyone. Regular trading resumes on Monday the 20th of August. Much love, Charlie x
Intriguing curiosity of the week, Part II
Did someone say “best barbecue ever”?
"Friends of Hill & Szrok" We're teaming up with some of our best chef customers to bring you a box of meat curated by them, with recipes, tips and banter. First up we've got @chefgeorgetomlin of @pfranco_e5, George has chosen - whole pigeon, sausages, Smoked Streaky bacon, veal topside steaks, chicken livers, and smoked pork hock. The box includes enough food for 2 people for 3 - 4 meals with recipes for each meat by George himself. we deliver across the whole of the UK Monday - Saturday. link in bio
Inadvertent homage to HR Giger’s concept art for Alien of the week
They mostly come at night. Mostly.
Envy-inducing holiday snap of the week
Who needs a holiday when the weather’s like this?
Endearingly complementary accessories of the week
Possible hint of the week
Monday 1 October is a date that a select cadre of London’s chefs will have circled in triplicate in their diaries: this is when they find out whether their efforts will be rewarded with a(nother) shiny Michelin star. Courtesy of the official hashtag-rich Michelin account, we know at least one inspector has visited Ollie Dabbous’ Green Park megalith, Hide, which made no secret of its multi-starred ambitions from the get-go. Could this be a suggestion of good things to come in the autumn?
Simple and delicious - Burrata with ripe apricot and camomile @hide_restaurant Ground, Mayfair, London . . . #MICHELINguideUK #london #mayfair #hideground #piccadilly #michelin #olliedabbous #new #londonrestaurants #lovelondon #burrata #apricots #camomile #temperature #simple #delicious #burratacheese #refreshing #michelininspectors #ripe #summer #instafoodie #foodiegram #lunch #starter #menu #seasonalfood #madeinhouse #informal #londoneats
Eye-raising pickled product of the week
Dish but definitely not shot of the week
Ugly delicious barely begins to cover it.
Shot / onomatopoeia of the week