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 2022, the group were asked 12 questions, covering the best meals and the worst moments alongside 2023 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 the best newcomers, restaurant standbys, best meals, saddest closures, biggest surprises, and key moments of 2022, as well as the restaurant openings to watch in 2023. Now, it’s time to look into the crystal ball.
Adam Coghlan, Editor, Eater London: Closures. But fewer than people expect; and fewer still of places we really care about. More inexplicable garbage at the high end and even more mediocrity in the mid-market; a small number of very interesting innovations from London’s smartest and savviest operators, who will look to find business success through creativity and originality, as opposed to creating something for the express purpose of making money. TikTok supremacy. Bread and wine.
James Hansen, Associate Editor, Eater London: January will set the tone for the year and it is likely to be painful. The longer the energy crisis endures, the more pain there will be. When this hits the middle market — the places with enough bankrolling to arrive in Zone 1, but not enough quality to survive the ruthlessness of their investors — the homogenisation of those areas will accelerate. Landlords will call the shots even moreso than they do now, even more pubs will be turned into culturally flat gastrospaces, to the delight of Topjaw, and the long arrival of overseas casual dining chains will accelerate. There’s the small hope that rising prices and the cost of menus having to go up will make diners realise that they’ve been paying lots for terrible food already for too long, which will allow smaller independents to survive.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and Eater London contributor: Wholesome, earnest response: three course, set menus become the trend everywhere. The pessimistic response: 100 small breweries close as pubs struggle with energy cost of living costs.
Jonathan Nunn, food writer and Eater London contributor: London is renamed “Arcade Food Hall.”
Sean Wyer, writer, researcher and Eater London contributor: More closures, including of very popular historic cafés and delis, usually to be replaced by something less vital but more profitable.
Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and Eater London contributor: Lots of closures due to impossible costs and trading conditions, January will very much set the tone for the year. Further staffing losses in the sector and at least one restaurant group being bought by outside investors. Farmers getting fairly compensated would be nice but I can’t see it happening which will lead to further shrinkage in the number of independent food sources in the U.K. More food halls, more pasta, more trend and influencer tie-in openings, and far too many cookbooks. Pre-pandemic there were a few members-only high end restaurant openings, I suspect this will start happening again in 2023.
Joel Hart, food writer and Eater London contributor: Optimistic view: More high-profile restaurants celebrating non-European/new-to-Londoners cuisines (such as the opening of Akub — London’s first modern Palestinian restaurant.) More listening bars with really tasty food a la Jumbi, and the further evolution of London’s sandwich offering in response to The Bear.
Pessimistic view: Even smaller small plates and more suggested per person, more tragic restaurant closures, and an acceleration in the hospitality sector’s recruitment crisis.
Both pessimistic and optimistic: Chefs will be forced to change their menus based on the rising costs of supply chains, with cheaper ingredients charged at higher prices. But some of the world’s most celebrated dishes emerged out of the necessity of thrift, so there might be some silver linings.
Angela Hui, food writer and Eater London contributor: King Charles dead. We’re all going to be frozen/boiled alive. More robots to replace FOH. Small plates become deeply unsexy and is replaced with micro plates. The American fast food/restaurant chains to continue their global dominance in the UK (please Cheesecake Factory, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden open here.)
David Jay Paw, food writer and Eater London contributor: A café that sells coffee and pastries in the morning, and pasta and aperitivo in the evening will win an innovation award. The fifth site of an existing concept will be hyped as the opening of the year. The best new openings will be outside zone 1. A few Instagram food creators will cross over to TikTok, and vice-versa. Industry perks — friends and family evenings, and the like — will become hot commodities.
Shekha Vyas, food writer and Eater London contributor: I think social media is going to get more extreme, influencing hospitality and home food trends in the vein of the “seacuterie” tinned fish board. Restaurants and more recipes and merch from TikTokers seem inevitable. Mushrooms will continue to have a moment and I feel adaptogen coffee might become more mainstream with more restaurants and cafés, particularly plant-based ones, playing with the concept in their offering. Trends around “budget” ingredients could emerge; 2023 may well be the year of the potato and the onion. On the other end of the spectrum, I predict more restaurant-branded hampers on the horizon and immersive theatrical dining experiences in the wake of concepts like Secret Cinema and Phantom Peak, as restaurants continue to try and diversify their businesses.