Top 10 food and drink trends for 2019By Lucy Shaw
Do you know your kimchi from your kombucha? If not, fear not, as this year fermented food and drinks are set to go mainstream as we all seek to be good to our guts. Fermenting, pickling and brining have been used as a way to preserve food for centuries, though this year will see the practice brought under the spotlight due to its health-boosting probiotic properties.
Among the alleged health benefits of indulging in fermented food and drinks are elevated energy levels and improved immune function, so expect to see more restaurants incorporating the likes of kimchi (Korean fermented cabbage), tempeh (fermented soy beans), miso, pickles and yoghurt into their dishes. Among those leading the charge are Counter Culture in Clapham, Little Duck The Picklery in Dalston, and Rök in Islington.
As for fermented drinks, having already hit the big time in Scandinavia, we’ll all be better acquainted with kombucha (fizzy fermented green tea) by the end of the year as hipster brands battle for supremacy on supermarket shelves.
Thought to have originated in Northeastern China, the sour sparkling drink, which is said to aid digestion, has become a huge hit among abstemious millennials, many of whom are experimenting with their own home brews. We predict that kombucha will start popping up on cocktail menus at some of London’s more experimental bars and restaurants.
Also set to make a splash this year is kefir, a fermented milk drink similar to yoghurt with a tart taste. First made in the Caucasus Mountains in west Asia, today you’ll find British made kefir at Waitrose. A less saturated market than kombucha, the race is on for leading brands to emerge.
The trend for ditching meat, or at least eating less of it, has been bubbling away for a while, and last year saw vegan cuisine go mainstream in Britain as the supermarkets broadened their ranges with vegan-friendly products, while vegan restaurants like American export By Chloé opened in London’s Covent Garden.
Though vegan fast food joint Temple of Seitan in Shoreditch proved that meat free food needn’t always be virtuous, as did Gizzi Erskine’s vegan pop-up Pure Filth at the Tate Modern.
This year we’ll see the non meat trend go to the next level as scientists get ever closer to replicating the smell, taste and texture of meat in a lab. Whether vegans and veggies actually want ‘motherless’ beef burgers that bleed like real ones remains to be seen – I’m not convinced.
Perhaps the real target market is meat eaters seeking to lessen the amount they consume without having to compromise on taste and flavour. Nasa pioneered the idea of lab-grown meat in the early 2000s, but the challenge ever since has been recreating meat’s complex combination of muscle and fat tissue in a petri dish.
In 2013 Dutch scientists successfully made a burger from stem cells extracted from a cow’s neck, at the astronomical cost of €250,000. Over the last five years the cost of production has dropped dramatically. In December, Israel-based Aleph Farms unveiled the first steak grown in a lab, which cost just £40 to produce.
With the boffins branching out into pork, chicken and even foie gras, we can expect to see some of these ‘cultured’ meats making their way on to menus in the not too distant future.
Non-alcoholic cocktail menus
With millennials drinking significantly less than their parents, it is no longer uncool or unusual to be teetotal – one in five Brits now doesn’t drink. While many of us only just manage Dry January, 2017 saw the launch of Club Soda, a ‘mindful drinking movement’ that aims to remove the stigma associated with not drinking in social situations.
The success of non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip, created to solve the dilemma of what to drink when you’re not drinking, proved that people no longer mock mocktails. Bartenders are taking their non-alcoholic cocktails increasingly seriously, rather than treating them as an afterthought.
Ryan Chetiyawardana’s Dandelyan on the South Bank, due to close in March to make way for a new project, offers a rotating selection of four non-alcoholic cocktails, including the Apple Sourz-Less, made with Seedlip, peas, apples and pine syrup.
Across town, The American Bar at The Savoy serves a quintet of non-alcoholic cocktails, including the Art Deco, made with Seedlip Spice, eucalyptus, peppermint syrup, citric acid and soda water.
In 2016, mixologist Rich Woods launched a non-alcoholic cocktail menu at Duck & Waffle for Dry January filled with drinks that were shown as much attention to detail as his boozy sips, made with virtuous ingredients like butternut squash and clementines.
This year, over 40 London bars, including Nightjar and The Coral Room, will be showcasing Seedlip cocktails throughout Dry January. Meanwhile, restaurants like The Clover Club in Shoredich, Angler in Moorgate, Mark Hix’s Tramshed in Shoreditch and Kym’s in the Bloomberg Arcade will be showing off Seedlip’s food matching capabilities with tasting menus designed to pair with non-alcoholic cocktails. Throughout January, Seedlip wll also be running a pop-up store and bar on Duke Street in Mayfair, where people can pop in for a ‘Nogroni’ after work.
Casual fine dining
While nothing new, the casual fine dining movement will gather momentum this year, particularly in its London epicentre, where new openings will be characterised by their ability to cater to all manner of dining scenarios.
White tablecloth venues will still continue to thrive, and serve their niche of the market for special occasion celebrations and splash out suppers, but new players will largely do away with formality in favour of fun.
The likes of Lyle’s and The Clove Club in Shoreditch epitomise this ethos of serving Michelin-starred cuisine in a casual setting, giving diners the best of both worlds by delivering both fabulous food and a buzzy ambiance in a relaxed environment.
Expect to see many more venues following suit, from Michael Sager’s Fare Bar + Canteen in Clerkenwell, which offers everything from Middle Eastern flatbreads and craft cocktails to wine on tap; to Coal Office in the shiny new Coal Drops Yard development in Kings Cross, which melds Tom Dixon interiors with punchy plates from former Palomar and Barbary chef Assaf Granit that cherry pick the best bits of Israeli, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
Across town at the Bloomberg Arcade, Andrew Wong’s sister site to his Michelin-starred A. Wong – Kym’s – embodies the high-end fast casual ethos. It’s a joyful little space serving exciting, delicious dishes that zap your taste buds with fiery flavours at fair prices for its postcode.
Last year barely a week went by without news of another big business that had jumped on the cannabis drinks bandwagon as the green economy drew power players like Diageo and Contstellation into its fold.
With a growing number of cannabis-based drinks in development, we’ll soon start to see CBD and THC-laced libations popping up on cocktail menus at some of London’s more forward thinking venues.
The trend has been bubbling away in the US for a number of years. In 2017 drinks focused restaurant Madison on Park in San Diego added a cannabis cocktail called Mr. Nice Guy to its menu crafted from mezcal, cannabidiol oil, matcha, pineapple, coconut milk and lime.
The non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant, CBD it is thought to be an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and antidepressant, and can be used to improve mood, memory, motor control, sleep and energy levels.
The same year Camilla Fayed’s plant-based restaurant Farmacy in London’s Notting Hill added a range of drinks infused with CBD to its menu. Served as a shot from a syringe, the OMG blends CBD with flaxseed and grapefruit, while There’s Something About Mary features CBD, vanilla vodka, lime juice, homemade hemp and bay leaf syrup, mango puree and a dash of chilli sauce.
According to investment bank Cohen & Co, the US cannabis industry could be worth a staggering US$75 billion (£57bn) by 2030. Seedlip founder Ben Branson sees the legalisation of cannabis in the US as a golden opportunity. “The legalisation of cannabis is a threat to the alcohol industry and a huge opportunity for the non-alcoholic category as the paradigm shifts in the way people drink continue to disrupt how and where we socialise. Cannabis cocktail bars anyone?”
While we went wild for pasta in all its glossy guises last year, in 2019 we’ll go bonkers for bread, as our fractious political situation will see us all seek comfort from carbs. The trend is already happening in some of London’s hip hangouts, like Bright in Hackney, where the humble katsu sando is causing a stir.
Originally from Japan, Brifght’s take on the sarnie features breaded pork slathered in mayo and chilli sauce rammed inside crustless cubes of white bread alongside crispy shards of shredded cabbage.
A number of London venues are coming up with their own twists on the snack. Tata Eatery serves theirs with raspberry jam for a sweet kick and a pepper-based riff on kimchi, while Two Lights on Kingsland Road, from the team behind The Clove Club, freestyles on the original by substituting pork for deep fried sardine.
Sarnies in general will be given the gourmet treatment this year. At Cora Pearl you’ll find a pimped-up ham and cheese toastie made with strips of pork jowl served as a trio of finger sandwiches with a dinky pot of chutney.
Catching on to London’s love of bread, canny restaurateurs keen to stay afloat in our turbulent times are opening hybrid venues that serve as bakeries by day and morph into wine bars at night. One of the first to do so was Jolene in Newington Green, from the team behind Westerns Laundry, which offers piping hot homemade breads at daybreak and natural wines and craft ciders in the evening.
Another chef to catch onto the trend is James Lowe of Lyle’s, who is set to open bakery/wine bar Flor next to Borough Market this spring, where all of the bread and pastries will be made in-house from British wheat milled at Lyle’s, and can be bought to take away.
The mere mention of Sherry is enough to make many a Brit shudder with bad memories of being force fed from a dusty bottle of Harveys Bristol Cream foraged from the back of their granny’s cocktail cabinet. The wine trade has been banging the Sherry drum for years, and drinking dens like Bar Pepito in King’s Cross and Capote y Toros in South Kensington have helped to show a hipper side to the fortified wine.
More recently, Sherry has begun popping up in cocktails at trendy London bars and restaurants with alarming frequency – every bartender worth their salt will now include Sherry in at least one of their cocktails, with finos and manzanillas adding a welcome sea-air tang to apéritifs, and amontillados and olorosos giving more decadent mixed drinks an appealing nuttiness.
Sadly no longer listed on the pre-prandial section of its menu, Hawksmoor’s Tom and Jerez was a salty-sweet blend of gin, manzanilla, pear, lemon and almond, offering a snapshot of Spain in a glass. Sherry is put to good use on the new Music / Magic / Drama menu at The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, appearing in its amontillado guise alongside plum liqueur umsehu, yuzu and Lillet Blanc in the Showtime cocktail, while the punchier Only the Finest, a twist on an Old Fashioned with caramelised sesame, features Pedro Ximenez.
Helping to expand Sherry’s reach to a younger audience is hipster brand Xeco, founded by a trio of “fino fiends”, Beanie, Alexa and Polly, who are working with some of London’s top mixologists to develop innovative, on-trend Sherry-based cocktails.
The four-strong Xeco range is housed in square-shouldered bottles with funky playing card-style labels featuring famous historical figures from England and Spain, including Shakespeare and Cervantes, and bright bottlenecks in striking shades like turquoise, teal and burnt orange.
One of the biggest restaurant trends this year will be the continuing growth of the takeaway sector, as companies like Deliveroo, Just Eat and Uber Eats grow their share of the market. While we still love going out, the convenience of having our favourite restaurant dishes delivered to our door is proving irresistible, offering the best of both worlds by marrying the quality of restaurant food with the cosiness of home.
According to research from MCA Insight, the UK restaurant delivery business is now worth a whopping £8.1 billion, with London accounting for the lion’s share of recent growth. Having launched as recently as 2016, Uber Eats grew its share of the market by 24% last year, while Just Eat enjoyed 12.5% growth. Interestingly, the most popular dish ordered on Deliveroo is the Five Guys burger, proving that people are using the service to enjoy their favourite comfort foods rather than fine dining dishes.
While the business model may be beneficial for restaurants seeking alternative sources of revenue, it may ultimately prove harmful for many sites as diners increasingly opt for convenience and comfort over the glitz and glamour of going out for dinner.
While Americans embraced the idea years ago, it’s taken longer for concept of canned wine to catch fire in the UK, not least because of the snobbery surrounding drinking wine out of anything other than a 75cl glass bottle. But the world is changing, minds are broadening and wine packaging is evolving.
Consumers are more ethically astute than ever, leading some drinks firms to think outside the bottle when packaging their products. A quarter of all beer sold in the UK in 2017 was in cans, which are recyclable and portable – an ideal option for picnics in the park or trips to the beach.
Wine, too, is also demonstrating a can do attitude. Waitrose launched its own range of canned wine last June in time for festival season; a move the retailer said was inspired by the 10% rise in sales of its 187ml bottles in 2017.
Last May, new drinks brand The Uncommon released the first English wine in a can – a lightly sparkling Bacchus using grapes grown in Surrey – boasting a beautifully eccentric illustration of a top hat-wearing giraffe surrounded by butterflies and blooms.
Across the pond, sales of canned wine are soaring in the US, as consumers become more open-minded to alternative packaging format for wine. The canned wine category is so white hot, Nielsen has valued it as a US$45 million business, with millennials seeking out smaller measures spearheading its growth.
Keen to get in on the trend is Provence producer Mirabeau, which cooled Brits during the heatwave last summer with its popular frosé popsicles. Brand owner Stepen Cronk plans to launch his Provence pink in a can in the UK this year, having enjoyed success with the format in the US.
Vegetarian tasting menus
As an increasing number of Brits either shun meat altogether or adopt more of a flexible approach by lowering their intake and during the week and treating themselves at weekends, restaurants are responding to our shifting eating habits by making a hero of humble vegetables and shining a light on them on standalone tasting menus that seek to prove that a meal without meat (or fish) isn’t a meal where you miss out.
The likes of Gauthier Soho, Pied à Terre, The Ledbury and Alyn Williams at The Westbury have been pioneering this approach for years with their veggie tasting menus. Gauthier Soho’s current menu features delicious delights like celeriac and apple velouté; wild mushroom tortellini; miso caramelised turnip and quince; and saffon roasted butternut squash.
On Pied à Terre’s vegan menu you’ll find experimental dishes like cauliflower with vanilla, sea vegetables, crispy quinoa, kale and tenderstem broccoli; and salt baked heritage beetoot with grilled baby leeks, sorrel and Port. Trendy venues like The Clove Club, Pollen Street Social, Tredwells and The Frog by Adam Handling have also been championing veg by putting it centre stage, rather than treating it as an afterthought.
A staple on Adam Handling’s vegetarian menu is his signature celeriac dish, featuring date and lime, and a decadent dish of Tunworth gnocchi, onion and Worcestershire sauce. Jason Atherton meanwhile, serves the likes of new forest mushroom pearl barely with Périgord truffle; and beetroot tartare with apple and sourdough croutons on his vegan menu at Pollen Street Social.
Expect to see more restaurants following suit with seriously thought out vegetarian and vegan tasting menus offered alongside standard ones as restaurateurs wake up to the fact that non-meat eaters are becoming an increasingly powerful and influential demographic.