Saturday, 29 December 2012

My 2012: A Tasty Year

2012 has been a good year: a year of burgers, hot dogs and fine dining.  The food scene in London has moved on apace, some great additions, but some sad losses as well.  But it is abroad where I had my 2012 moment:  Coi of San Francisco served up something truly spectacular.  This is my guide to eating in 2012 and tips for 2013.


Best New Addition: there have been some fantastic openings in the London eating scene this year - Jeremy Lee has confirmed his position as one of London's leading chefs at Quo Vadis; the march of Honest Burger has continued to Soho.  But my top new restaurant of 2012 has to be Duck and Waffle:  incredible food, breathtaking views and friendly, unpretentious service in the middle of the City.  And those crispy pigs' ears, wow!

The Eton Mess at Duck and Waffle

The Marshmallow at Coi
Biggest Loss: for me, the greatest loss of 2012 was North Road.  The Scandinavian outpost lurched from bad to worse, losing its stellar head chef in August, then eventually filing for administration in December.  I visited after Hruskova had left, it was my favourite meal in London in 2012.  Delicate flavours, wonderful presentation - the candy floss tree at the end of the meal with edible branches and earth was truly incredible.  Here's hoping that both Hruskova, and his replacement Raphael Cagali, are back behind the stove somewhere again soon!

Hay and Sea Buckthorn at North Road

Best Restaurant:  Coi swept all before it when I visited.  San Francisco had served up some incredible meals, but Coi took everything to a new level.  And this was despite having to wait more than an hour for our table!  A fourteen course tasting menu - I left feeling full, but energised and light.  I have a feeling that it will be a very long time indeed before I enjoy a meal as much.  Perfect.

Pea soup, buttermilk and nasturtiums
Biggest disappointment: the Witchery in Edinburgh had been on my to do list for at least a decade.  It has been near the top of the Edinburgh rankings for so long.  However, the food was such a disappointment.  A salt cod dish straight out of the eighties, tough beef cheek and staff that clearly wanted us to leave.  Needless to say I will not be back.

Looking ahead to 2013

Food trend: if  2012 was the year when burgers continued their inexorable march towards London domination, and when the predicted explosion in Peruvian cuisine failed to materialise, what will 2013 hold?   I think we'll continue to see the blurring of fine dining and street food -chefs from top restaurants paring dishes back and reinventing them for the streets. Also I see a move to cooking over wood, taking the BBQ bonanza of Pitt Cue Co et al of last year that one step further.  I can't wait!

Top tip: my restaurant for 2013 doesn't have an opening date, or even a premises yet.  But wherever Ben Spalding opens next will be the opening of 2013.  A bold statement, but given his record at Roganic, then the excellent Stripped Back (fine dining served on paper plates at a market stall), and the reviews that were coming out of John Salt in Islington before his tenure was cut short, I have no doubt his next place will be "the" place of 2013.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all my readers:  here's hoping for another year of fun, feasts and fantastic friends.
Duck & Waffle on UrbanspoonNorth Road on UrbanspoonHonest Burgers on UrbanspoonQuo Vadis on UrbanspoonJohn Salt on Urbanspoon

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