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Restaurants Adapt to Autumn’s Coronavirus Restrictions in the Spirit of Spring

Another blow to the restaurant world plays out across Instagram

Quality Wines’ blackboard, empty, as restaurants respond to coronavirus curfew
A reset at Quality Wines
Quality Wines/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 a real scoop.

News of the week

As New York Yankees baseball icon Yogi Berra so memorably put it, this week has been like déjà vu all over again for the U.K. hospitality sector, as the events of spring 2020 received an unwelcome autumn reprisal. Granted, the 10p.m. curfew that goes live tonight is not the existential threat that a full months-long lockdown seemed to represent, but it’s still an unwelcome dose of uncertainty, anxiety and operational complexity in an ecosystem that has had more than enough of all three over the last few months. Keep calm and carry on? Carry On Up The Pass, more like.

Happy (?) New Year of the week

There is also an unmistakeable oh-so-very-2020 irony in a new wave of restrictions coming into place in the same week that people across the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah. Jewish New Year is supposed to be about rebirth and renewal, not pandemic-adjacent infringement of civil liberties; as with so many other moments in this singular annus horribilis, at least there is some solace to be found in the kitchen.

Pivot of the week

And still, despite [*gestures at literally everything*], people still find a way to muddle through, innovating and experimenting with new business models. To wit: Pezu, an online aggregator-slash-supermarket pulling together pantry staples and heat-at-home meals from some of the city’s best-loved independent businesses including Sambal Shiok and Rasa Sayang. As with literally everything in the sector these days, use it or lose it.

Future (past) Insta-icon of the week

In an alternative-timeline 2020, a Masterchef finalist opening their first restaurant might seek to go viral with a quintessentially Mastercheffy series of dishes: overwrought, unnecessarily elaborate creations that take gimmickry to the point of parody. Instead, Matthew Ryle has only gone and opened … A proper old-school French bistro, and front-and-centre in its offering is an already-notorious pâté en croute. It might not be reinventing the wheel, but when the results look this good, the only appropriate reaction is a deeply Gallic shrug.

Juuuuuice of the week
Going to tell my kids this was natural wine.

Intellectual McProperty of the week

Fillet-O-Fish is out, so what about … Patty-O-Piscine?

Dish of the week

Who says only boys can cook?

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Made a stupid stir-fry to cheer myself up.

A post shared by MiMi Aye (@meemalee) on

Shot of the week

Unlike its Christmas equivalent, a figgy pudding that people might legitimately want more of.