It is the tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, rovers of the industry, and professional eaters. Even a year like this one. For 2020, the group were asked 13 questions, covering the best meals and the worst tweets alongside community responses, and coronavirus pivots. Their answers will appear throughout this week, with responses related in no particular order; cut and pasted below.
Having surveyed the best meals, the best delivery, the best and worst tweets, the most memorable moments, the litany of pivots, and the saddest restaurant closures, it’s time to look forward — to 2021’s openings, and the return of restaurants which either changed their operations or went into hibernation.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: I suppose one way of answering this question is to consider what has been missed the most — what, despite the many and various ways in which restaurants have come into our lives in 2020, has been missing. For me, that’s an evening in Food House, eating skewers and dipping into a big pot of Sichuan peppercorn and chilli-spiked fish; a glass of wine and some plates at p. Franco on a Sunday afternoon; working the specials board at Koya Soho mid-week; Quality Wines; Singburi; and Ikoyi. I await the next episode of Tata Eatery with great anticipation, and the return of ‘restaurant openings’ as a thing with even more.
James Hansen, Associate Editor, Eater London: Hard not to say all of them.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: I have no idea what the landscape of London restaurants will look like, who will still be here — the words ‘return’ or ‘debut’ takes on new meaning this December. I am excited about the new Darjeeling Express, I really want to eat at Akoko, Sarap BAon and Chishuru… and I am excited to see what happens with Tramshed, I think that could be a very cool spot.
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: All of them.
Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: I’d love to see what London’s best vegetarian restaurant Vanilla Black does next. They already have plans to run cookery classes via Zoom and video — but beyond that? I don’t know. They’re far too important and talented to disappear from the scene completely, so let’s wait and see.
Emma Hughes, freelance food writer and Eater London contributor: Does sitting indoors with people I don’t live with count? That will be very exciting.
George Reynolds, food writer and Eater London contributor: I totally understand why restaurants have been forced to reduce their menus, or pivot into prix fixe – whatever it takes to survive is A-OK by me. But I would also be lying if I said I didn’t miss the thrill of navigating a blackboard menu in a group – making demands here, concessions there, before someone whispers, in a tone pregnant with possibility: “Shouldn’t we just… order the whole thing?”. Three restaurants – Westerns, 40 Maltby Street, Quality Wines – are perhaps my favourite in the city when enjoyed this way; I also can’t wait for the return of pre-pandemic P Franco.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: Honestly, I’m just looking forward to the time when (if) the industry can get a bit of breathing space.
Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor: In theory Roketsu, a Japanese Kaiseki restaurant owned by Daisuke Hayashi (ex-head chef at Kikunoi Honten) should be the biggest opening of the year and maybe if it was in Paris or Spain it would be but it’s in London so we wait nervously to see if it delivers on the promise and fear the eye watering sums it will command. Much easier to be excited by whatever form TATA Eatery takes next and also the prospect of a new swathe of home bakers and pâtissiers opening up businesses as well as the possibility of being a shokunin finally becoming a valid business model.
Ed Cumming, writer and food critic: Manzi’s — the Corbin & King fish place in Soho.
Gemma Croffie, writer and Eater London contributor: Manzi’s because I love seafood and the Wolseley so I’m eager to see how it comes together.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: Singburi to reopen with dine-in again (fingers crossed). Give the people what they want @hottestinstachef and bring back the steamboat!
David J Paw, food writer and Eater London contributor: I’m hopeful that storytellers that speak to the city’s multifaceted culinary traditions like Keshia Sakaria of Caribe’, Joke Bakare of Chishuru, and Sarap’s Budgie Montoya make it through a punishing winter period. The city needs them.