London restaurants are harking back to old school food memories to create a new dining experience. WGSN Travel Contributor Emily Johnson reports
London restaurateurs seem to be feeling nostalgic this month, with five new dining establishments proving a hit – all inspired by popular food of the past. While influences vary from sweet shops to 70’s throwbacks, one thing ties these together – an unashamed appreciation for comfort food. Carbs! Sugary booze! School dinners! These new hotspots have arrived just in time to ruin any plans for a skin-tight party season look; but London seems to be craving a nostalgic meal at the moment and these picks answer that call.
WGSN’s Emily Johnson discovers how a handful of new London dining spots are playing up to this snowballing trend, and transforming forgotten fads into modern day fashionable cuisine.
168 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JE
The venue is situated inside Pump (a converted petrol station) which is about as retro as you can get in terms of visuals – good start! Amid neon lights and wooden slatted seating, diners can get down and dirty with ribs, fried chicken and – wait for it – alcoholic slushies. The slushies will make you feel 12-years-old at a bowling alley #throwback – except instead of blue raspberry, you’ll have a mojito in your hand. Although the food is American, Londoners will feel a familiarity with the greasy, salty menu thanks to childhood fast food binges; making this a somewhat guilty culinary trip down memory lane.
2. Coin Laundry
70 Exmouth Market EC1R 4QP
Set in the up-and-coming Exmouth Market, Coin Laundry is a multi-use venue inspired by a nostalgia for all things 70’s. Accordingly there is a retro menu (think Black Forest Trifle and Chicken Kievs), along with soda-stream cocktails and board games. Tongue-in-cheek dishes and pinball machines could risk walking the line between retro and old-fashioned (and falling off the wrong side) but subtly kitsch décor and a self-deprecating sense of humour nip that in the bud. There is also a regular programme of book clubs, club nights and pop-up shops hosted in the basement space that add to the low-tech, social heavy vibe.
207 1 Westgate Street London Fields E8 3RL / 44 (0)79 8555 0990
NT’s is a permanent spin-off from Shoreditch pop-up market Night Tales, following the success of the previous street food, music and cocktail venue. The new bar serves drinks from the Night Tales cocktail menu, but it’s the exciting collaboration with cheese toastie pros Morty & Bobs that sets the food apart. Transforming the humble toastie into a gourmet sandwich using the best of British cheeses, the addition of Morty & Bobs puts some serious comfort food on the table. With its simple menu and indulgent attitude to canteen-inspired comfort food, its a great way to spend a chilly London evening.
4. Eat Your Drink
10 Carnaby Street W1F 9PF
Neighbourhood: Carnaby Street/Soho
There is now an alcoholic sweet shop in existence – need we say more? Smith and Sinclair already have alcoholic sweets on the shelves of Harrods and Selfridges, but their latest project takes confectionary cocktails to a new level. Hosted by Benefit cosmetics on Carnaby Street, Eat Your Drink is a crowd funded pop-up shop that invites customers to consume their booze in every conceivable way – with the exception of drinking of course! There will be alcoholic bubbles, edible perfumes and booze-infused candyfloss and dib dabs on sale, ensuring your inner child will well and truly come out to play at this Willy Wonka style bar.
5. The Potato Project
27 Noel Street W1F 8GZ
Neighbourhood: Carnaby Street/Soho
The humble jacket potato is the focus of The Potato Project, an informal new Soho spot that is bringing baked spuds back. Usually expected in a greasy spoon or builders caf’, the menu sees beans and cheese removed and more refined ingredients appearing. Toppings range from smoked ham hock and piccalilli to all-day breakfast with roasted artichoke. For the more traditional customers, there’s a salted Cornish butter option, adding a posh spin to the potatoes of school canteens past. Meals aren’t limited to lunch, with a (non-potato) breakfast menu and sweet potato cheesecake dessert also available.
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