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Wild Garlic Springs Up to Greenwash London Menus for Another Year

The treasured, lurid green leaves now represent more than seasonal pesto frivolity

Raw scallops with a wild garlic pesto
Scallops with wild garlic from essential London restaurant The Quality Chop House
The Quality Chop House/Instagram

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

News of the week

This is not normal. It’s a mantra repeated over and over — to describe broken politics, or the climate crisis, or Jessica’s behaviour on Love Is Blind. Perversely, it’s become such a mantra that the not-normalness of everything has become the new normal, such that things once deemed remarkable are now shrugged off as commonplace. So, to reiterate: Britain has not had a winter, in the traditional sense of winter being a season where things are cold and arduous. The country just endured the wettest February in history. And so much as the re-emergence of wild garlic — and everything it symbolises about the coming of spring, hope, renewal, rebirth, and all that good stuff — might be seen as a cause for celebration, it might also be a good time to take pause and note: This is not normal.

Postcard from the apocalypse of the week

It has been, to put it mildly, a rough couple of years for the British hospitality industry. But with consumer confidence apparently on the road to recovery after years of political deadlock, it finally looked like green shoots were poking through. Yeah, about that. The novel coronavirus should, of course, be feared first and foremost as a threat to public health; it’s also understandable for restaurant operators to fear that this — not Brexit, not the weather, not yet another rent review — might be The Big One. As ever, consumer panic helps no one; as ever, consumer panic has already kicked in. Let’s hope London’s many, many excellent restaurants make it out the other side.

Recurring trend of the week

On the plus side, it’s green pasta time again.

Category fraud of the week

Recently established law states that any filling even partially surrounded by dough and / or pastry can legitimately claim the status of a dumpling. It’s an understandable and only mildly controversial position to take, but one that overlooks a whole category of quintessential British comfort foods. So perhaps it’s time for a vaguely Brexity amendment. Can any filling even partially surrounded by dough and / or pastry also legitimately claim the status of a pie?

Fans of the week

Successfully dispelling the myth that all Ottolenghi stans are Islington Guardian-readers. These ones are from Wales!

Cover version of the week

Jolene: I’m begging you, please don’t take my ham.

Returning villain of the week

Anyone with a lot of free time and a decent PC circa 1998 will almost certainly have spent many, many hours scaring the bejeesus out of the themselves in the claustrophobic air vents and dimly lit corridors of the Black Mesa Facility: the setting for Valve’s first-person shooter masterpiece Half Life. 99.9 percent of those scares will have come courtesy of the headcrab — a nightmarish, football-sized creature that would fling itself at the player’s HUD from somewhere in the shadows with a signature bone-chilling shriek. Valve is about to release the long-overdue next instalment in the Half Life series, in which many more headcrabs will doubtless feature; it’s nice to see someone getting their revenge in early.

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Puddings of the week

Could rival even Liverpool’s back four.

Dish of the week

Thanks, Vantablack, it was a good run as one of the darkest materials known to the world.

Shot of the week



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