November 2016.

What are the UK restaurant trends for 2017?

1 answer

A lot has to do with cost. Because of expensive rents in central London, which keep rising, you’re seeing more good restaurants opening in places like Peckham, and Brighton too, and that will continue. Bristol, for example, especially has a new wave of new chefs coming through, and in Manchester and Edinburgh too, opening smaller restaurants that are still ambitious.

You’ll also get more very simple restaurants with two or three items on the menu, like a chicken restaurant, something that doesn’t take a lot of skill or a huge amount of investment, and also more off-the-wall ideas designed to work for a short period of time. People can afford to lease a restaurant for six or twelve months, so they’re designing something quite wacky and niche, like a place serving twenty-one different types of lasagne, which isn’t a concept designed to last for a long time, or pizza and artisan cider, places that everyone will go to and then might not go return.

The Big America operators, such as the Five Guys burger chain, are currently planning to open all over the UK, and you’ll see more Smashburgers too. The early adopters who leap on everything will doubtless say that Mexican food is over, but I think you’ll see more good Mexican food opening up over the UK. I thought that Peruvian food might be a passing trend, but it seems to be getting a proper foothold in London, with chefs like Martin Morales at Ceviche, so that might spread out across the UK too. Bao, which serves Taiwanese food, has been hugely popular and that signals the strong possibility of other authentic regional Chinese food appearing in UK restaurants.

I think you’re Also going to see a lot more ‘mindful’ eating in 2017, in the mould of restaurants like the new Counter Kitchen in Clerkenwell, London, which serves ‘healthy’ dishes with Asian and Middle Eastern flavours like courgette, pomegranate seeds and labneh sala in bowls. Bowls full stop will be big in 2017. Younger diners in particular love the informality of food designed to be served in bowls – LA breakfast spot Sqirl nailed the trend with dishes like Sorrel Pesto Rice Bowl – and the trend extends to the continuing popularity of ramen restaurants like Bone Daddies.