The last three weeks of London restaurant news round-ups have concluded with the feeling that “two parallel realities are in play at once.” Now they are converging. As tier 2 coronavirus restrictions bear down on the city that little over a month ago dined in the sunshine, restaurants, pubs, and bars face ominous weeks ahead.
- The biggest news of the week is that from Saturday, London restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes will be subject to tier 2 coronavirus restrictions. Here’s what that means for dining out in the city.
- What it means for restaurants, pubs, bars, and cafes themselves is more complex. These COVID-19 restrictions limit trade, by preventing household mixing indoors, but they do not oblige businesses to close — which would allow them to claim additional job support from the government. On 1 November, that job support changes from the furlough scheme to the job support scheme (JSS,) which bases support on job viability. As businesses are made less viable by one coronavirus policy, they need to be viable to get the benefit of another.
- Owners and workers alike see that this does not square up. A protest, this Monday 19 October in Parliament Square, aims to show the harm that the contradictions between suppression and safety net will cause.
- Tier 3 comes after tier 2, and in that tier, pubs and bars that cannot serve a “table meal” are forced to close, and therefore become eligible for COVID-19 employment support that pays 67 percent of workers’ wages. Many believe that figure is not enough; but it’s the arbitrariness of the meal restriction that leads to questions about which businesses are allowed to claim support, when, and why.
- More key food policy news started the week, with a vote on the new Agriculture Bill — that will define food’s place in trade deals with the U.S. and other nations after Brexit. For the second time, Boris Johnson’s government voted down amendments that would have enshrined U.K. minimum food standards in the new laws, despite having pledged to protect them in its 2019 election manifesto.
- With tier 2 restrictions, the weather, and the hospitality curfew throttling trade, restaurants will be looking to alternative revenue streams. Meal kits proved vital during the first national coronavirus lockdown, but whether or not their novelty will stick a second time remains to be seen. Other responses include opening an entire new pop-up, as Covent Garden chef Chantelle Nicholson flies east for the winter to take up residence in Hackne, and an entire new shop, as top London bakery Little Bread Pedlar opens in Pimlico.
- Sad news as late-night Chinatown institution Hung’s, a bastion of Catonese roast meats, life-giving noodle soups, and seam-bursting wontons appears to have closed for good on Wardour Street.
- A debut Afro-Caribbean food festival from hit YouTube channel Original Flava headlines Facebook Live this weekend; £14 chocolate dogs sniff their way into Mayfair at a new patisserie from the Connaught Hotel; Boris Johnson turns down footballer Marcus Rashford’s child food poverty plans despite that proving embarrassing last time; and that dreadful “next job in cyber” poster at least let the food world’s meme masters flex their muscles.
- Great British Bake Off update: Chocolate Week was a raw, brutal, gooey mess — and that was just the chocolate brownie signature.
Fresh restaurant guides on where to eat in London...
- With tier 2 approaching: Where to eat outside in London...
- ... And where to eat outside in London when it’s raining.
- Where to drink wine outside in London.
- Where to eat the pastas of the world all over the city.
- Where to eat in Victoria and Pimlico.
- Bust the Made in Chelsea myth with the best restaurants on the King’s Road.
- And how to get London’s best cocktails at home.
Until next week, eat well and be safe.