clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Planning a Soft Opening for a Hot New Restaurant? Go Hard or Go Home

Jason Atherton’s The Betterment is just one example of how the soft opening continues to make way for PR-driven strategies

Steak tartare with caviar in a glass bowl at Jason Atherton’s The Betterment The Betterment [Official Photo]

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 guide to London’s best bars.

News of the week

Jason Atherton’s The Betterment doesn’t officially open opposite Gordon Ramsay’s Lucky Cat until tomorrow, but in 2019 the concept of being open for business is very much up for debate. These days, the official unbolting of the content floodgates is arguably just as important as anything happening in real life, and so, especially for the hefty chunk of Insta-users who may not be able to afford the house riff on poulet demi-deuil on a whim, The Betterment has in one sense actually been trading for a fortnight or so now, with preview dinners whetting appetites and building anticipation. It’s perhaps early days to be anointing *the* dish, but expect to see plenty of *that* chicken and *that* scallop as the marketing strategy rolls along through previews via invites to actually taking money from paying punters. Oh, and don’t expect to have heard the last about that cocktail, either, which is a move for a chef who cooked for the President on his state visit earlier this year.

Proliferation of the week

Last week Insta Stories broke the Pulitzer-worthy news that mushrooms were suddenly in season; seven days on the glut has clearly gone to the city’s head, with Instagram users getting ever more creative in their efforts to reframe the ubiquitous fungus. Guy Savoy-baiting ceps in brioche; two-Michelin-star worthy knifework; Lion King homages; deeply appetising stews; laboured and borderline atrocious dad puns — all was fair game as the content mushroomed. Kind of terrifying to imagine where this will end up, given there’s at least another few months of girolles, porcini, and pieds de mouton to come.

View this post on Instagram

End now cooked ...!!

A post shared by Claude Bosi (@claudebosi1) on

View this post on Instagram

Jokes about mushrooms are so sporing.

A post shared by Portland (@portlandrestaurant) on

Account of the week

The account @Insta_repeat does exactly what it says on the tin – takes a series of weirdly identikit images shared by users and collates them into a single patchwork shot that doubles as a fairly devastating indictment of creativity in the modern age. Let’s just pray it never changes its focus away from douchey outdoorsman types and towards London foodstagram, otherwise we won’t be able to move for Flor lardy buns and Black Sea pide at Arcade Food Theatre.

Tragedy as farce of the week

Mallard stuffed with lavender and… A tiny blonde lady?

View this post on Instagram

Lavender & Honey Roast Mallard on from tomorrow

A post shared by Hill & Szrok (@hillandszrok) on

Itinerary of the week

A tour of Paris’s best bakeries with the creative force behind one of London’s best bakeries? As the French say: oui, merci.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Violet By Claire Ptak (@violetcakeslondon) on

View this post on Instagram

Softest buns filled with apple and vanilla cream

A post shared by Violet By Claire Ptak (@violetcakeslondon) on

View this post on Instagram

Pâtes de fruits from the master @patrick_roger_off

A post shared by Violet By Claire Ptak (@violetcakeslondon) on

Original of the week

Cod’s roe, soft boiled egg, layered / fondant / confit / pavé potatoes — yet more proof, as it approaches its 25th birthday, that there isn’t a single Modern British hero dish that St John hasn’t in some way influenced.

Dish of the week


Shot of the week

Is it kind of weird that we continue to uphold the Victorian affectation of referring to three-flavour ice cream as “Neapolitan”, despite the fact that real Neapolitan gelato typically comes in single flavours? Would presenting three things that weren’t ice creams in a similar stacked fashion constitute a savoury Neapolitan? Can something be Neapolitan if it only contains two flavours? By that logic, is every dish, sweet or savoury, really just a fraction or multiple of a Neapolitan? Behold: a two-tier, three-flavour, sweet-savoury, definitive answer to all of the above. The Neapolitan is dead. Long live... The Neopolitan.

St. John

26 Saint John Street, , England EC1M 4AY 020 7251 0848 Visit Website


Saint Paul's Road, , England N1 2LH 020 7226 2733 Visit Website


47 Wilton Way, , England E8 3ED 020 7275 8360 Visit Website


1 Bedale Street, , England SE1 9AL 020 3967 5418 Visit Website