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Top 10 food and drink trends for 2015

It’s that time of year when trend forecasters look into their crystal balls to bring you what they think will be the key trends of the coming year.

Keen to keep our eye on the ball, db has spotted certain patterns emerging in the world of food and drink, which we believe will become more prevalent in the following 12 months, from a heightening of the lobster-mania craze currently sweeping the capital to a newfound reverence for breakfast via cereal specialists and a restaurant the puts the humble egg on a pedestal.

At the other end of the dining spectrum, desserts look set to trend in 2015, with Basement Sate shining a light on pudding and cocktail pairings and Wild Honey pioneering the concept of chocolate boards.

On the drinks front, we predict big things for the keg this year, with wine on tap set to go mainstream across the capital. We also expect to see a rise in rare vintage wines being offered by the glass and half bottle, as Coravin technology opens the door to the enjoyment of liquid treasures by the measure.

Read on for our round-up of what we believe will be the top 10 food and drink trends to rock the UK restaurant and bar scene in 2015. If you think we’ve missed anything important out then let us know in the comment box below.

Breakfast

With brunch having been championed last year via the capital’s slew of brasseries, from Balthazar to Chavot, 2015 looks set to eulogize breakfast. Causing a storm in a cereal bowl late last year was newcomer the Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane, run by bearded twins Gary and Alan Keery, where gastro geeks can get their Frosties fix for £3.20.

With ‘80s and ‘90s memorabilia plastered across the walls, the café’s menu boasts 100 different types of cereal from across the globe, including classics like Coco Pops, Weetos, Shreddies and Golden Grahams alongside American cereals like Reeses Puffs, Fruit Loops and Apple Jacks.

Offering 12 different kinds of milk and 20 toppings, the café even serves cereal cocktails. While £3.20 seems a reasonable price for a bowl of cereal given the cost of running the venture, the twins were accused by Channel 4 News of gentrifying Hackney and making it unaffordable for the borough’s poorer residents.

Placing the humble egg on a pedestal meanwhile, is egg self-confessed “egg pervert” Neil Rankin at all-day diner Bad Egg in Moorgate. Inspired by Chicago diners, rather than classics like eggs Benedict and boiled eggs with soldiers, Bad Egg serves North African baked eggs, Malaysian egg sambal with galangal, shrimp and chilli, and a reinterpretation of the full English breakfast.

Also on the menu are chaat masala hash with sweet tamarind and chilli, Mexican breakfast staple huevos rancheros and a Bad Egg burger served with a runny yolk.

Vermouth

Traditionally a medicinal drink enjoyed by the ancient Greeks, vermouth has been threatening to go mainstream for a while, but 2015 looks like the year the fortified wine gets the recognition it deserves.

Playing a vital supporting role in classic cocktails like the Martini, Negroni, Manhattan, Martinez and Corpse Riviver, Ed Scothern at Mele e Pere in Soho has been on a mission to get Londoners drinking vermouth at his basement bar filled with demijohns where he makes a both dry and sweet vermouth by steeping a base wine with botanicals including the all-important wormwood, adding caramel to bring sweetness to the red.

London bartenders are championing vermouth as an apéritif served over ice, while the “V&T”, vermouth and tonic, could start giving the G&T competition. The launch of high-end German vermouth brand Belsazar late last year is set to elevate the image of the drink in the UK.

Striving to be the midpoint between the bitterness of Antica Formula and the sweetness of Punt e Mes, the brand is on sale at progressive bars like White Lyan in Hoxton, which has created a cocktail around one of Belsazar’s four expressions; Dandelyan; the Chiltern Firehouse and Tony Conigliaro’s Bar Termini in Soho.

Gareth Evans at City Social is also shining a light on the fortified wine with his Vermouth? You Can’t Handle Vermouth cocktail that blends Bulleit rye, Cocchi vermouth di Torino, Gancia bianco, Campari and Pierre Ferrand dry curacao.

Lobster

Having gone clucking mad for chicken and bonkers for burgers, London’s latest single-dish obsession is with lobster – three lobster shacks opened within a mile of each other last November in a trend food writer Zeren Wilson dubs “lobster-mania”.

With Burger & Lobster having pioneered the concept of affordable crustacea served in hip hangouts, its parent company, the Goodman group, recently opened Smack Lobster a claw’s throw from Oxford Street, which is offering lobster rolls to eat in or take away for £9 in a move that has made a luxury item usually reserved for special occasions tantilsingly affordable. Also getting their pincers dirty are newcomers Fraq’s Lobster on Goodge Street and Lobster Kitchen on Great Russell Street.

Having opened its first site in Mayfair in 2011, the mould-breaking Burger & Lobster now boasts six sites across the capital, including the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols, and recently expanded outside of England to Cardiff and New York.

The chain is now the world’s largest buyer of Nova Scotia lobsters, with diners chomping through over 2,000 of the beasts a day. Future B&L sites are planned for Dubai, Manchester, Bath and Birmingham this year, and Leeds, Aberdeen and Edinburgh in 2016.

Kegs

While American restaurants and bars have been serving wine on tap from kegs for years, 2015 looks set to be the year that London embraces the trend. Early adopters were Pizza Pilgrims in Soho, Tozi in Victoria and Covent Garden restaurants Homeslice Pizza and Flesh & Buns, all of which sell Prosecco on tap marketed as “Italian sparkling wine” to avoid incurring the wrath of the Prosecco police as the practice was made illegal in 2009.

Last summer, Vinoteca dared to sell a 2013 dry Riesling in keg from small Pflaz producer Axel Neiss. Allowing the wine to be sold for as little as £3.95 a glass, the keg format proved an unexpected hit.

New Soho seafood restaurant Rex & Mariano is championing the keg in a big way, with each of the eight wines on its list housed in kegs and sold on tap, starting at £4 a glass. Sourced from Roberson, among the wines are Copain Syrah from Healdsburg and Broc Cellars “Carbonic” Carignan from the Alexander Valley.

On-trade wine supplier Bibendum is also backing kegs and plans to sell a range of wines in keg, including a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Argentine Malbec, Italian Sangiovese and French Pinot Noir to restaurants this year.

Middle Eastern promise

London’s fling with Levantine cuisine, spearheaded by The Palomar in Soho, which won a Bib Gourmand last year from Michelin for its fresh, affordable take on Israeli tapas, will blossom into a full-on romance this year.

Currently one of the hottest tickets in town, The Palomar is inspired by the much loved Machneyuda in Jerusalem and its small plates are influenced by everywhere from Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon to Andalusia in southern Spain, with signature dishes including polenta with mushroom ragout, truffle oil, asparagus and parmesan; Moroccan oysters with harissa; and pork belly tagine.

Also flying the flag for Middle Eastern cuisine in the capital is Arabica Bar & Kitchen near Borough Market, which pays homage to Beirut’s golden age in the 1960s, when it was considered the Paris of the Middle East and a honey pot for affluent bohemians.

Serving lamb sausages with pine nuts; Lebanese seven-spiced chicken wings; and aubergine, pomegranate and walnut croquettes, the wine list boasts drops from Galilee, Syria and Lebanon. Across town, Israeli café Honey & Co in Fitzrovia specialises in dishes inspired by the owners’ childhoods, while Alan Yao has just opened Babaji Pide on Shaftesbury Avenue, which specialises in Turkish pizza.

Pleasure by the measure

With wine preservation system Coravin having “changed the game” with its arrival in the UK last year, we can expect to see enticing by the glass offerings popping up at wine-focused restaurants and bars around town, from fine dining establishments like Avenue in St James’s to more casual venues like Californian wine specialist bar Mission in Bethnal Green.

The technology works by passing a hollow needle through the cork of a bottle, meaning measures can be extracted without having to open the wine, allowing fine wines to be sold by the glass without fear of treasured bottles turning to vinegar if they don’t sell.

Throwing out the rule book, venues will increasingly offer rare old vintages by the measure on their ever-evolving wine lists, with Xavier Rousset MS of 28-50 recently selling Château d’Yquem 1990 by the glass for the first time, charging £54 for 75ml, alongside Chave Hermitage, Ornellaia, Lynch-Bages and Corton-Charlemagne.

At The Remedy in Fitzrovia, all of the wines on its prized “Cellar” list are available by the half bottle via Coravin, with 37.5cl of Château Musar white 2003 on sale for £30 and the same amount of Cos d’Estournel 1999 on pour for £85.

Sister sites

The Ivy Market Grill

With the casual dining movement dictating new openings, a clutch of the capital’s top chefs have launched laid-back sister restaurants to compliment their more formal flagships in a trend that looks set to continue this year.

Early to the party was Jason Atherton, whose Social Eating House in Soho operates as an irreverent younger sibling to his Michelin-starred mothership, Pollen Street Social in Mayfair, serving the likes of wild mushrooms on toast and smoked duck ham, egg and chips.

Angela Hartnett has also gone casual with Café Murano in St James’s, billed as a little sister to the original Murano in Mayfair. Staying true to her Italian roots, truffle arancini, octopus and pine nuts, and wild boar fettuccine all make an appearance on the menu. Celebrity favourite The Ivy has also opened a little sister in the form of The Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden, where potted shrimps, oak smoked salmon and shepherd’s pie are served at the all-day brasserie.

Also keen for a slice of the action is Marcus Wareing, who opened Tredwell’s on St Martin’s Lane late last year, where the majority of dishes, such as chicken liver mousse with bacon jam, are designed to be shared.

Dessert bars

Basement Sate

In addition to a new fixation for breakfast bars, the capital has also developed a sweet tooth, which has led to a rise in dessert bars. Early to the party on the trend was the Pudding Bar in Soho, which popped up on Greek Street last summer and served desserts like Eton Mess, Earl Grey panna cotta and S’more cheesecake matched to Tokaji, Sauternes, Vin Santo and Pedro Ximénez.

Hot on its heels came Basement Sate in Soho. Devised by Provence-born pastry chef Dorian Picard, desserts have been created specifically to pair with the tasting notes of the cocktails on pour in order to enhance their flavours, with the likes of seaweed, salted caramel and beetroot all making an appearance as ingredients.

The newest addition to the scene is the Baba Bar at Sofitel St James, which shines a light on the rum baba, serving five liquor-infused babas alongside their corresponding cocktails, including a Cointreau-laced Long Island Iced Tea, Gin Pimms and Piña Colada. We can also expect to see chocolate boards popping up on menus offering an array of chocolates from as far afield as Ecuador, Bolivia and Madagascar, with Wild Honey pioneering the concept this month.

Food and cocktail matching

A trend that looks set to mushroom this year is the concept of food and cocktail matching. The lines between the kitchen and bar are becoming increasingly blurred as chefs and mixologists look to each other for inspiration. With seasonality now a key focus for bartenders, cocktails are being designed to pair with certain dishes and are thus becoming increasingly savoury in character, with fruit and sugar being replaced with vegetables, herbs and spices.

Tony Conigliaro of 69 Colebrooke Row has long championed the concept, recently collaborating with Le Dauphin restaurant in Paris on a food and cocktail menu that married a burnt butter Kir Royale with scallops, brioche crumbs and mozzarella milk.

Back in Blighty, Duck & Waffle’s head chef Dan Doherty works closely with head bartender Rich Woods on the restaurant’s food and drink offering. The pair are due to launch a supper club that explores the idea of food and cocktail matching, where Doherty will be challenged to create a dish around one of Woods’ cocktails and vice versa.

Meanwhile, Gareth Evans, who oversees the drinks offering for Jason Atherton’s London restaurants, has a project in the pipeline that focuses on food and cocktail matching.

Multi-sensory dining

Sound of the Sea at The Fat Duck. Photo credit: Star Chefs
Sound of the Sea at The Fat Duck. Photo credit: Star Chefs

With consumers becoming increasingly experience driven, restaurants will place theatre at the top of their priority lists, seeking to offer equal entertainment value to a night at the Old Vic, with everything from lighting and music to cutlery given greater attention. Heston Blumenthal has long pioneered the idea of multi-sensory dining, exemplified by his “Sound of the Sea” dish at The Fact Duck, where diners are given a recording of the ocean to listen to while eating the seafood dish to enhance the overall experience.

Meanwhile, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain collaborated with musician Zubin Mehta and artist Franc Aleu in 2013 to create a 12-course “culinary opera”. Taking it to another level, at the 10-seater Ultraviolet in Shanghai, the lighting, sound, imagery and temperature shifts with each course on the tasting menu in order to enhance the appreciation of the individual dishes.

Key to the development of this trend will be Oxford professor Charles Spence, who recently discovered that high-pitched music enhances the flavour of sweet and sour foods, while low-pitched sounds enhance bitter flavours. He is currently working on the concept of “sonic seasoning”, where flavours are matched with certain sounds to enhance the taste experience.

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