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 2021, the group were asked 13 questions, covering the best meals and the worst tweets alongside 2022 predictions and dining standbys. Their answers will appear throughout this week, with responses relayed in no particular order; cut and pasted below.
So far, Year in Eater has covered best newcomers, restaurant standbys, best meals, restaurant openings to watch in 2022, best and worst food moments of 2021, the best and worst food tweets of the year, and the biggest restaurant surprises. Now it’s time for the saddest closures of 2021.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: Amazed there’s no space in London for ASAP long term, even though chef Pam Yung has sadly departed the city.
Terroirs is the end of a era, but what a legacy it leaves behind.
And RIP Brawn shop, you weren’t around long and I hope you come back. I will run 2u.
James Hansen, Associate Editor, Eater London: Kapihan, with the relief it will shortly find somewhere new; Flor / ASAP Pizza, which is really mourning not a restaurant nor a pop-up but the city losing a chef of rare calibre in Pam Yung; Terroirs.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: I was really sad to hear about Kapihan. It was on the other side of London, so I’d go so rarely, but I think it’s a really unique spot. I hope they can find a new place soon!
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: Not technically a closure, as the restaurant still exists, but Pam Yung’s departure from Flor definitely marks the end of that restaurant as it was initially conceived. ASAP aside (which remains to this day the best pizza I’ve eaten in London), the food that Yung was serving at Flor in the last year eschewed all the labels of fusion you could level at it: even though the menu could hop from Japanese to Mexican from Modern British to Georgian in a single dish, there was some logical thread that tied it all together, that made it all make sense. Not many chefs can pull that off, and London is going to be poorer without her.
While I’m here, I also think there should have been a discussion about how not one of the four national reviews, or the restaurant awards that featured it, thought it was relevant to mention the name of Flor’s female, Asian, Michelin star-earning head chef, but if I speak...
Chris Cotonou, writer and Eater London contributor: Something about the closure of the Covent Garden Angus Steakhouse cut deep in the same way Hung’s did last year. It’s such a nostalgic part of “pre-foodie” London — a relic of a time when steak and chips was the apex of the city’s dining scene. Although it’s not a restaurant per se, I was also upset to see Terroirs go, a place that was always reliable when I fancied a quick red before my train (and couldn’t be bothered to queue up at Gordon’s).
Sejal Sukhadwala, food writer and Eater London contributor: Tredwells, which had a great vegetarian menu.
Emma Hughes, writer and Eater London contributor: I’m going to really miss Corazon’s margaritas and fish tacos.
George Reynolds, writer and Eater London contributor: Moi An, because I think I must have eaten there at least 100 times, and it straight-up sucks that, overwhelmingly, it is smaller operations like it that have borne the brunt of stay-at-home mandates and their power to strip entire sections of London of foot traffic. The Floating Boulangerie, because it’s such a brilliantly whimsical idea that could only exist in the strange hinterland that is London’s canal network, and it sounds like it has been torpedoed by something as banal as overzealous bureaucracy. Trullo Shop, which closed for unclear reasons midway through a run of truly fantastic British-Italian sandwich-making (RIP, vitello tonnato bun, you will be sorely missed.) Mandy Yin’s Nasi, although that does at least have the semblance of a happy ending.
Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor: I can’t think of a single one, all the heartbreaking closures seemed to happen in 2020 and with the current climate the fallout will be mostly in 2022 as even the most resilient find it hard to hold on. 2021 was the year of the land grab and the saddest closures are perhaps the ones that didn’t happen, the places that thrived when they had no right to.
Ed Cumming, writer and restaurant critic: Cereal Killer Cafe.
Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: I was already sad when Monty’s Deli’s Hoxton restaurant closed in 2019 but the recent announcement that it has permanently closed down was really gutting. Terroirs, a truly trend-setting place, and ASAP Pizza/Flor in its restaurant form are also huge losses.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: I’m absolutely gutted about Y Ming. After 35 years, the little blue building has closed its doors for good and was one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Soho on Greek Street. I really admire owner Christine Yau (now chairman of Chinese Community Centre). She’s an inspiring woman who goes against the grain and has been a long advocate for Chinatown.
David Jay Paw, food writer and Eater London contributor: Terroirs.
Lucas Oakley, food writer and Eater London contributor: Seeing Terroirs shut up shop was a real gut-punch.
Sean Wyer, writer, researcher and Eater London contributor: Pamela Yung’s departure from ASAP Pizza was a sad moment for lovers of things-atop-bread. ASAP’s creative use of heritage grains was the best possible kind of innovation, in a field that often feels stuck between novelty gimmicks at one extreme, and a fetishisation of the Neapolitan tradition at the other. Yung will be missed; few bakers in London have thought more deeply about the mechanics of pizza.
Hester van Hensbergen, food writer and Eater London contributor: Having only lived in London for a couple of years, I frequently find I’m regretful about the ones I never made it to. I’d been hoping to finally visit the Blue Nile in Woolwich, a restaurant with an important story to tell about the imbricated culinary and colonial history of Eritrea through pasta and injera, but the family have sadly closed up and sold.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: Any closure is sad — it is someone’s business after all. I keenly felt the loss of Kabayan, the Filipino café in Upton Park, which still hasn’t reopened. I really hope it does next year.