It’s tradition at Eater to end the year with a survey of friends, contributors, industry rovers, and professional eaters. Even a year like this. For 2021, the group was asked 13 questions that covered the best meals and worst tweets in addition to community responses and coronavirus pivots. Your answers will appear for this week, with the answers being given in no particular order; cut out and glue below.
So far, Year in Eater has the best newcomers, restaurant stalls, the best meals, restaurant openings in 2022, the best and worst food moments of 2021, the best and worst food tweets of the year, the biggest restaurant surprises, and the saddest closings covers of the year, the biggest hopes for restaurants in 2022, and a look at where the dining world might go next. But to finish off with a trickier question: What? will happen to London restaurants in 2022?
I’ll see you next year to find out. – Adam Coghlan and James Hansen
Adam Coghlan, editor, eater London: The combined pressures of Brexit (mostly on staff) and the legacy of the pandemic (the harsh reality of debt payments and the expiry of tax breaks) will weigh heavily on many restaurants. I fear that many of the closings forecast for 2021 have been delayed and may not happen until a year later. In their place? Cynical international expansion giants (like Popeyes) and cynical national-international expansion monsters (like Gordon Ramsay).
Oh, and Boris Johnson will actually pick up his p45 sooner or later. He will leave politics to take on an ambassadorial role at Din Tai Fung.
James Hansen, Associate Editor, Eater London: The success of merch, pop-ups and “collabs” will accelerate the restaurant-as-a-brand acceleration. Gordon Ramsay will continue his one man mission to provide a casual culinary crunch in 2025. New and old hotels try to fire up the dying embers of gastronomy tourism with increasingly untrustworthy cooking partnerships.
Anna Sulan Masing, food writer and author of Eater London: “Gordon Ramsay’s street pizza restaurants are closing because no one goes to them. What a terrible idea that was. Who is Gordon Ramsay anyway? “
George Reynolds, Food Writer and Contributor to Eater London: Carelessly: Gildas, man. Gildas everywhere. Rita’s jalapeño popper version is just the beginning. A little less superficial: the gradual disappearance of what I’ll call commission stores for now as the population realizes that there are only so many cans of Ortiz anchovies, bags of Torres chips, and bars of Pump Street chocolate to buy without converting their home into another grocery store (maybe that’s how they spread in the first place). Cash raised in the bank and / or from private equity to fund a robbery.
Jonathan Nunn, Food Writer and Contributor to Eater London: Vittles tries to make a Fulgarance and opens a restaurant. It closes after 10 days due to unusually heavy reviews. JKS is investing in Bake Street and rolling it out across London. Salt Bae opens a Nusr-et in Padstow and starts a war between him and Rick Stein. A Cull-Yaw shoulder wrapped in gold leaf sells for £ 1000. Singburi never opens. A three-star Michelin restaurant opens in a country where travel is banned; Andy Hayler is found in a hollowed-out pair of loudspeakers in the luggage compartment of an airplane and is immediately deported.
Chris Cotonou, Writer and Contributor to Eater London: The amazing success of Lisboeta by Nuno Mendes – after half of the nation conquered Portugal earlier this year and hopefully returned with a better appreciation for Portuguese cuisine – or Jason Atherton’s HOME, a supposedly more intimate affair. I wonder if the new fast delivery services like Getir, which could replace supermarkets, will also offer hot food as an option …
Sejal Sukhadwala, Food Writer and Contributor to Eater London: Not exactly a headline prediction, but I’m fascinated by more and more Indian chefs who run non-Indian kitchens and cook entire menus with, for example, Japanese, French and British dishes. I know it has been happening for a while, but this year it was more on my radar than ever. To take a local example, the head chef at a kosher cafe in Golders Green is a Gujarati man from Ahmedabad who didn’t learn Israeli cuisine until he moved to London a few years ago. I am fascinated by such stories and watch this development with interest.
Sean Wyer, Author, Researcher and Contributor to Eater London: Tech Bros will continue to pretend the gig economy can solve deep, structural problems in the job market. A dozen or more trite Italian restaurants are opened; their food will be good, but their PR will be second to none. Giles Coren is still inadequately canceled.
Feroz Gajia, restaurateur and employee at Eater London: Year of shrinking margins and crushing business conditions, but still the industry will bury its head in the sand and move forward with opening after opening.
Lucas Oakley, Food Writer and Contributor to Eater London: More pop-ups. I know it even seems possible considering how many pop-ups there are in London right now, but there will be more of them. Remember my words
Daisy Meager, food writer and Eater London contributor: My crystal ball gets duller every year … That means I don’t know! Unfortunately, I think instability and uncertainty due to COVID and Brexit will continue to be an ongoing challenge.
Ed Cumming, Author and Food Reviewer: Unfortunately, more of it – more choppiness, more insecurity, more generally the realization that the great London restaurant moment is over. Plus point, more interesting stuff opening outside of London.
Angela Hui, Food Writer and Eater London Writer: Everything feels very much again in March 2020. Fears are high and uncertainty remains due to the global pandemic. More inevitable variants will likely emerge in the future and we will try to navigate blindly through the darkness as usual. Last year I predicted racist show shows and lo and behold, of course they happened. * cough * Ivy Asia and Breakfast Cure * cure * When are people going to study?
David Jay Paw, Food Writer and Contributor to Eater London: Some restaurants will dare to incorporate service into their prices; Substack will continue to grow as the point of contact for original ideas and hot takes in the industry. Influencers will panic if Instagram exposure drops and TikTok continues to collect its lunch break.
Hester van Hensbergen, food writer and author of Eater London: More cakes (from Willy’s Pies and Cuties Pies). Nostalgic pud: roly poly, Swiss rolls, iced buns, trifle and marble cake. More fun and sexy pub food in the style of The Plimsoll and Hot4U. More really good gallery food (at Pizarro and Spring, RIP Rochelle ICA). Some really good library and bookstores. Food art installations or foodscapes as coveted catering, inspired by Laila Gohar in New York, pineapple pineapple in LA and Lei Saito in Paris. Gail’s supremacy. Death to fiddly restaurant food.