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Top 10 food and drink trends for 2020

Zero waste restaurants

Silo in Hackney claims to be the world’s first zero waste restaurant

Last year saw the rise of the closed-loop cocktail, with bartenders like Duck & Waffle’s Rich Woods and Dandelyan’s Ryan Chetiyawardana making use of ingredients most chefs and bartenders would throw away, from avocado stones and burnt toast to lemon husks.

Cub champions closed-loop cocktails

This year chefs will be following their zero waste lead in a movement pioneered in the UK by Doug McMaster, head chef of Silo in Hackney, which markets itself as the world’s first zero waste restaurant that operates with a “pre industrial food system”.

At Silo nothing goes in the bin – food waste is turned into compost – and many of the ingredients, from the bread and butter to the oat milk and beer, are made on site. Even the furniture is made from recycled materials and the crockery from crushed wine bottles.

Ryan Chetiyawardana has adopted a similar philosophy at his restaurant and cocktail bar Cub in Hoxton, using considered ingredients, shining a light on plant-based dishes and working sustainably to prove that zero waste doesn’t have to mean zero taste.

Native in London Bridge, run by foraging fanatic Ivan Tisdall and Imogen Davis, makes use of every scrap in its zero waste canapés crafted from the offcuts from main courses, fish skin, day old bread and vegetable trim.

The pair work almost entirely with British ingredients and offer a £20 menu at weekends made with leftovers from the week.

Thai restaurant Smoking Goat has gone as far as employing an in-house butcher to make sure every morsel of meat is put to good use. Expect to see more zero waste restaurants popping up in London this year as reducing food waste becomes a top priority for operators.

Hard seltzers

Hard seltzers exploded onto the drinks scene in the US last year and will be making their way to the UK in 2020. Doing what it says on the tin, hard seltzers are alcohol-spiked fizzy drinks made with booze, carbonated water and flavouring. The trend for the alcoholic versions of the drink has grown in tandem with the rise of zero ABV seltzers – the popularity of hard seltzers is growing at such a rate that the category is predicted to be worth $2.5 billion in the US by 2021.

Their appeal can be put down to them ticking a number of different trend boxes, being low calorie, low in sugar, often low in alcohol and packaged in portable cans. The hard seltzer seems to be the lovechild of all the drinks trends hitting the industry at the moment, so may just prove a flash in the can, but could be here to stay as beer and spirits drinkers switch to seltzers with a kick.

Among the biggest brands making waves at the moment are White Claw, which comes in five flavours including black cherry and mango; Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, which boasts a distinctive mermaid motif and includes sophisticated flavours like pear and elderflower; and Truly, owned by Boston Beer, which has a 13-strong range of flavours. We expect to see a number of US brands launching in the UK this year, after AB InBev’s Mike’s Hard Sparkling Water led the way last November.

Hyper local eating and drinking

Many of this year’s trends dovetail with each other. In addition to a boom in zero waste restaurants we’ll also see the rise of hyper local eating and drinking, as consumers look to lower their carbon footprints. In London we’ll witness a renewed enthusiasm for neighbourhood restaurants, particularly in the east, where lower rents have led to a flurry of exciting ventures that may have previously looked to launch in Mayfair or Soho.

Diners will no longer feel like they have to schlep into central London at the weekend for a good feed. On the drinks front, we’ll see more craft operations with tap rooms attached popping up, inspired by the likes of London’s first meadery, Gosnell’s in Peckham, urban wineries London Cru in Earl’s Court and Blackbook in Battersea, and newcomer Kanpai – London’s first saké brewery in Peckham. Founded by Lucy and Tom Wilson, the brewery and bar has already attracted a cult following of fans keen to try its £12 saké flights and Japanese-inspired cocktails.

Peckham seems to be at the epicentre of this hyper local drinking trend, while Bermondsey remains the hub for craft beer, being home to The Kernel, Cloudwater, Fourpure and Hiver to name but four. When it comes to gin, it doesn’t get more hyper local than The Distillery in Notting Hill, billed as London’s first gin hotel, where guests can enjoy a Portobello Star G&T or three then roll into bed at one of the three guest lodgings next to the distillery. Last year BrewDog announced plans to open its first beer hotel in the capital, but a launch date has yet to be confirmed.

Food halls

As rents continue to rise and profits squeezed as a result, succeeding in the UK on-trade is becoming increasingly cutthroat, leading to the demise of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant empire last summer. One solution for savvy restaurateurs is doing away with a bricks and mortar venue and setting up shop in a food hall instead.

From Pergola in Olympia and Paddington to Flat Iron Square and Vinegar Yard in London Bridge, food halls are having a moment in the capital, and provide the perfect solution for big groups of diners with an array of dietary requirements.

One thriving newcomer is Market Hall, which now has sites in Victoria, Fulham and the West End, allowing diners to enjoy single dishes from different restaurants Taste London style. With Brexit looming, trading conditions won’t get any easier this year, so we predict more start-ups will graduate from street food stalls to food halls rather than risking the expense of opening their own bricks and mortar venues.

Central and Eastern European wine

Consumers are due to fall in love with Slovenian wine this year

As consumers get more confident in their wine knowledge they will be looking to expand their vinous horizons this year and will be experimenting with lesser-known grapes from some of the world’s more undiscovered wine regions. Sales of Slovenian Furmint are up by 159% at Waitrose, which recently launched a range of lesser-known wines, including an Arinto from Portugal and a Cannonau from Sardinia.

Expect to see wines from Central and Eastern Europe given more space on wine lists this year, and more frequently offered by the glass, as drinkers with a thirst for knowledge seek out drops from Croatia, Romania and Slovenia, the latter being home to a plethora of orange wines that continue to charm consumers’ palates.

Mexican chef Santiago Lastra, who headed up Noma’s Mexico pop-up, will be shining a light on organic and biodynamic drops from Central and Eastern Europe at his London venture Kol, due to open in Marylebone in March, where his house wine is made by Slovakian estate Slobodne.


Fergus Henderson of St. John pioneered the concept of nose-to-tail dining many moons ago, and 2020 looks set to be the year when fin-to-tail eating goes mainstream. Dovetailing with the zero waste trend, chefs are increasingly looking to get the most out of their produce, and are working with all parts of the fish, including the gills.

At the moment most people only eat around 40% of  a fish, but less desirable parts, from the head and bones to (gasp) the eyes, are more frequently being used by chefs, which can only be a good thing, given that the World Wildlife Fund has reported a 40% decline in recorded marine species in the past 40 years.

Proving popular on James Lowe’s menu at Flor in Borough Market are his scarlet prawns, a dish of two halves where diners are encouraged to eat the heads. Newcomer Lyon’s in London’s Crouch End, bills itself as a fin-to-tail restaurant that makes use of every part of the fish they cook, from cod neck to fish skin crisps.

Kiln in Soho is similarly sustainable, using lobster heads in its stocks and monkfish livers in its curries, while Ivan Tisdall-Down at Native serves fish fins on toast. With an increasing number of people lessening their meat intake or ditching it altogether, expect to see the rise of flexitarians (those who eat meat on occasion) and seagans – vegans that stick to a plant-based diet but also eat fish) this year.


As the war against sugar continues to rage, sour looks set to be the flavour on everyone’s lips this year, from tart cocktails that make a star of apples, lemons and limes, to non-alcoholic drinking vinegars like Peckham-based Mother Root’s Ginger Switchel, founded by Bethan Higson, a former wine ambassador for Moet Hennessy turned drinks entrepreneur, which can be found on pour at The Ledbury and Orasay in Notting Hill.

The popularity of fizzy fermented green tea kombucha looks set to grow this year as alcohol-spiked versions start to pop up in bars and on supermarket shelves, while the zero ABV versions continue to prove popular with abstemious millennials.

The tongue tingling food boom is mushrooming due to the growing popularity of fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, which are known to be good for your gut. Chefs are increasingly experimenting with sour flavours and are weaving sour ingredients like rhubarb, hibiscus and tamarind into their dishes, while our passion for pickling is showing no sign of slowing.

Savoury desserts

If the latest series of MasterChef: The Professionals is anything to go by, then we can expect to see a lot more chefs pushing savoury desserts or puds with savoury elements at their restaurants. From cheesecakes laced with Stilton to salmon macaroons, no flavour seems to be off limits anymore when it comes to the end of the meal.

Desserts that incorporate mushroom seem to be particularly popular at the moment – at Native in London Bridge the current dessert on the menu blends white chocolate with a mushroom cream, toffee apples and Kentish wood ants (a trend first explored by René Redzepi at his Noma pop-up at Claridge’s due to certain types of ants having a flavour akin to lemongrass).

As sugar becomes increasingly seen as the enemy, savoury puds will only grow in appeal. Perhaps the most successful of which will combine sweet and savoury elements, like salted caramel.

Jamie Oliver has long championed the idea of enhancing Cornish ice cream with a sprinkling of salt and a dash of good quality extra virgin olive oil – try it, it works a treat. Savoury ice creams in general are having a moment, from basil and sorrel to fig leaf. Early in on the trend was Heston Blumenthal, whose bacon and egg ice cream became a signature dish at The Fat Duck.

‘Wellness’ drinks

It’s not enough for a drink to quench our thirst anymore. They are now expected to be full of health-boosting, performance enhancing ingredients. As health conscious millennials continue to shun alcohol and generation Xers lessen their alcohol intake, a new category of ‘wellness’ drinks has emerged that seek to enhance your mood.

From Margaritas laced with electrolytes at London restaurant Sketch to espresso kombuchas that are both good for your gut and provide you with your daily caffeine hit. Expect to see more start-up drinks brands fortified with zinc, calcium, potassium and vitamins C and D, along with drinks tailored to target specific needs, from gut health to brain boosting.

Sea herbs

In Rick Stein’s latest TV series, Secret France, which explores whether cooking standards have slipped in the motherland of haute cuisine, the chef goes foraging for sea purslane and marsh samphire, both of which are set to be big on menus this year.

While samphire is nothing new – Waitrose has been selling the salty shards for yonks – 2020 will see lesser-known sea herbs like sea aster, sea beat and sea fennel come to the fore, along with nutrient rich kelp and spirulina, which are increasingly being lauded for their health benefits due to being rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

Isle of Harris distillery in Scotland uses sugar kelp as a botanical in its gin foraged from the seas around the Outer Hebrides, while the Isle of Wight’s Mermaid Gin uses rock samphire, and Rock Rose gin, hailing from Scotland’s Dunnet bay, makes a hero of sea buckthorn.

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