As the government’s “Eat Out to Help Out” discount scheme heads into the final week, its offer and outdoor dining have continued to boost restaurants. At the same time, with no sign of a scheme extension — or meaningful rent support — from the government, restaurants are starting to extend it on their own dime. Maybe customers will keep coming, but some restaurateurs fear that artificially inflating supply of customers will only see a sharper fall in demand when the bubble bursts.
- As with last week, sunshine, outdoor dining, and the “Eat Out to Help Out” discount continued to bring a boost in morale and numbers. Pretty much all three of those things are only going to last through August, and the scheme’s success is therefore limited by design: it can’t ignore the longer term problems restaurants and their workers face.
- Some restaurateurs want to change that: a growing number of restaurant groups are pledging to offer the discount on their own dime.
- But as the number of ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ meals claimed rises to 64 million, others worry that the prevalence of discounting will inure diners to unsustainable pricing and further distance them from the reality of food and wage costs.
- One long-awaited opening confirmed its plans, as Chef’s Table star Asma Khan confirmed she would reopen Darjeeling Express in Covent Garden, anchoring the restaurant in a trio of tasting menus, including one comprised entirely of biryani, befitting its ceremonial importance.
- At the same time, restaurant closures continued to gather momentum, as more independents that held out as long as they could were left with little other choice.
- Two of lockdown and post-lockdown’s success stories announced that they would extend their winning strategies. Top Cuvée, the Highbury wine bar who used deft logistics and an obvious pun to make Shop Cuvée a runaway train of natural wine and natural wine on Instagram, will open a permanent site in its neighbourhood, while Michelin-starred Shoreditch restaurant Brat will extend its summer glow-up at Climpson’s Arch until 2021. Soho bistro 10 Greek Street, meanwhile, is joining the 2020 London pizza party with Roman-style crisp bases, and upcoming West African restaurant Akoko has an opening date for its arrival in Fitzrovia.
- It was another rough week for chains. Thomasina Miers’ ‘Mexican’ restaurant Wahaca will close four London sites, while maroon sandwich behemoth Pret a Manger will put 2,900 staff out of work with thirty closures.
- Elsewhere, London’s chefs got pretty weird with some post-lockdown dishes; KFC cancelled its most famous slogan with some dodgy pixelation; and the hypebeast’s guide to the best London restaurant merch and where to buy it is fresher than ever.
As for where to eat...
- Here are the London restaurants taking Eat Out to Help Out outside for its final Monday.
- No jokes, please: here’s where to eat outside in London when it rains.
- London’s best bakeries never stopped laminating.
- The best Sunday roasts in the city, with an emphasis on outdoor dining and finish-at-home.
- Where to eat in Shoreditch, especially for takeaway and outdoor dining.
- And a full list of dining guides for the long weekend.
Until next week, eat well and be safe.