London’s restaurants, cafes, pubs, and bars have been in lockdown since 5 November. They will stay under lockdown until at least 3 December, with only takeaway, collection, and delivery permitted. With many businesses having put the necessary logistics in place in the first national lockdown in March, more and more are expanding their offering, taking the best dishes in the city nationwide.
- The week began with another government U-turn on free school meals. Again prompted by footballer Marcus Rashford’s consistent, clear, considered campaigning, Boris Johnson announced a £406 million funding package that will cover free school food provision, through academic holidays, through 2021.
- Rashford’s personal experience of free school meals and near year-long campaign has put them in the spotlight in a way not seen since Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s School Dinners. Helen Sulis Bowie, a pupil at Kidbrooke School when that series was filmed, writes that in both substance and style, Rashford’s advocacy understands the importance of state-funded school food in a way that Oliver, and his programme, never could.
- Despite the uptick in both invention and scale on the food delivery front, new unemployment figures from the Office of National Statistics reminded the restaurant world of how stark coronavirus’ impact has been. Hospitality is the worst sector measured by jobs lost, and this prompted U.K. Hospitality to again push for targeted financial relief.
- One element of financial relief that the government absolutely loved was Eat Out to Help Out — despite its possible links to novel coronavirus transmission. So, when chancellor Rishi Sunak mentioned that he wants “to get consumers spending again,” many sections of the media ran wild with the promise of Eat Out to Help Out S/S 2021. Sunak cooled their jets with a tweet — on the record, which is rare for this government. Maybe “senior Treasury source” is a bit too classic Dom.
- Staying with the government, Boris Johnson is throwing his weight behind a blanket ban on “junk food” advertising online, because he got novel coronavirus. Health professionals are glad; advertising professionals are mad; but the real question is, with the parameters based on calories and not food categories, is this the end of the monounsaturated green prince? Is this the end of ... Avocado #sponcon on Instagram?
- Staying with politics, with restaurants shut, Instagram was the only place for London’s culinary liberati to dine out on Trump’s defeat. There was champagne! There were memes! There were some weird takes!
- Please click through this link to a story about Pret a Manger retail coffee before continuing to read — seeing the photo is necessary. Right: Pret a Manger is launching retail coffee, despite its place in every office workers’ heart stemming entirely from its beat in the rhythm of office work — the surprise free coffee on a bad day; the 99p filter coming right next to the jambon beurre; the fact that there are so many goddamn Pret a Mangers that each one feels like “the local” even when they are choreographed to be exactly the same. And it has done so with this photo, which manages to fulfil its duty of saying, “bring Pret into your kitchen!” while also saying, “absolutely do not, under any circumstances, bring Pret into your kitchen.”
- Stout stout-slinger Guinness only launched its alcohol-free “0.0” beer a couple of weeks ago, and it’s already been recalled for possible “microbiological contamination.”
- Great British Bake Off update: Prue Leith sabotaged Dessert Week with a nearly unachievable technical, sandwiched between a dull signature and an artistic, but also dull showstopper. Plenty has been written about GBBO losing its cozy mojo, and this episode continued the feeling of a series desperately scratching around for ideas.
Fresh restaurant guides on where to eat in London during lockdown...
- Start with the ultimate guide to eating at home in London, of course. But to break it down further:
- The best restaurants for delivery and takeaway.
- The most interesting restaurant meal kits to order.
- The best burgers to take away.
- The best pizza to order right now.
- Comfort food to warm the cockles of your heart.
- Where to find the best takeaway flat whites and espressos.
- The hypebeast’s guide to London restaurant merch, and where to buy it.
- The best food shows and films on Netflix.
- Favourite cookbooks from the city’s top writers and chefs.
Until next week, eat well and be safe.