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Posh Nosh

September 2012

By Quentin Clarke, London

In true Brit style, Londoners scorned the Olympics until the day the festivities started. What remained as the only target of national cynicism after the opening ceremony was the world’s largest McDonalds, which monopolized on-site eating options. Athletes never went anywhere near it.

Yet, strangely, it signified the current vogue for simple, meat-and-potato restaurant food. Legend has it the trend started with MEATliquor, the Peckham pop-up burger joint, which now now has central London premises and queues around the block. You’ll see similar scenes at Rita’s Bar & Dining, Honest Burgers and even Soho House is jumping on the bandwagon with its Chicken Shop. These recession-busting restaurants share a few simple dishes on the menu, scarcely a vegetable in sight and a no-bookings policy, facilitating both fast service and high table turnover. A favorite is Burger & Lobster where for £20 diners choose between either a burger or lobster. Needless to say, everyone orders lobster.

Moving in the opposite direction decent restaurants, such as Wahaca, established Olympic street-food vans in the trendier tourist areas, lowering overheads and maximizing profit. Street food is still relatively new to London, offering a welcome alternative in streets saturated with sandwich chains.

London's recent taste for Italian bitters-- such as Campari and Aperol-- stems from Frank’s Campari Bar, another legendary (and equally visitor-unfriendly) Peckham pop up that is still standing. Perhaps the recession comes into force here too. Unlike most fruit-based cocktails, a Negroni cannot be finished in seconds flat. Or maybe it's a nod to the last, seemingly endless slump in the 1970s?

Supermarket chain Waitrose has now introduced its first Brazilian and Chinese wines, which-- with the Olympics over-- feels like handing over the baton in more ways than one.

Retail & Dining
Liquor, Beer & Wine
Food & Drink
London

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