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London Restaurant Hype Has Two Moods

A barrage of scarlet prawns or pixelated gua bao?

Bao Borough Market and Parrillan Coal Drops Yard face off in a hype battle Bao: IsometricPixelArt/Bao London; Parrillan: Ed Smith/Instagram; Composite: Eater London

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is relatable.

News of the week

Anyone expecting the Hart Brothers to launch their new Ibicencan-inspired bar and grill Parrillan with a slow-burn microinfluencer campaign plainly wasn’t paying attention during the shock-and-awe launch of fellow Coal Drops Yard resident Barrafina last year. Not for the Hart boys niche guerrilla efforts — von Clausewitzian total war is much more their speed, and it showed this week as seemingly every high-profile Instagram user worth the handle found their way to King’s Cross for a spot of escalivada and some carabineros that basically cooked themselves on the white-hot aura of hype surrounding the restaurant’s mini charcoal grills. ¡Scorchio!

Also-ran of the week

Lost in all that sizzle was the news that the team behind Bao had opened their latest branch in Borough. Writing it off on this basis would be foolhardy, though — as some excellent 8-bit art suggested, there are plenty of intriguing delicacies on offer, not least a chicken nugget bao that is making an early run for Insta-dish of the Insta-season.

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Home style pork Jowl at BAO Borough

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Chicken nugget Bao @bao_london #London

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my reason for skipping dinner tonight

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Who wore it best of the week

Glitch in the matrix vibes as not one, not two, but three accounts chose this week to advertise a dish pairing strawberries with verbena. A curious coincidence, or evidence that this combo will be this season’s must-have flavour sensation?

Mashed-up mash-up menu of the week

Chef John Chantarasak’s AngloThai pop-up / residency is already delivering extraordinary-looking things at south London’s Counter Culture; this week saw a further set of influences layered on top as Henry Harris’ French-inflected fare was added into the mix, locating that elusive sweet spot between “Mercy!” and “merci beaucoup.

Recipe of the week

A handy reminder as summer begins to heat up. Conical flask optional but encouraged.

Headstrong cookery of the week

Finger lickin’ good.

Michelin-baiting presentation of the week

Chef Jacques La Merde, is that you?

Sobering statistics of the week

Don’t even think about what this means for a wine drunk in a restaurant at a 3x markup.

Escalation of the week

First it was deep-fried lasagna and ‘pasta bombs’, then deep-fried Babybel, now it’s the turn of the scarcely believable cacio e pepe beignet. Since this is basically just at the free association cosmic ordering stage, here are some more dishes doubtless coming to London menus soon: tartiflette croquettes; carbonara fondue; deep dish cheese toastie. And maybe a nice green salad?

Dish of the week

Tomato; tomatOMG.

Shot of the week

Core blimey.


83 Rue De La Gauchetière Ouest, Ville-Marie, QC H2Z 1C2 (514) 875-1388


43 Drury Lane, , England WC2B 5AJ Visit Website

Counter Culture

16 The Pavement, , England SW4 0HY 020 8191 7960 Visit Website