Curious Trends


Primordial style eating in London

The Savoy Grill’s re-opening on Monday is rather timely. The trend for carnivorous cuisine is growing and the Grill is installed with a new £12,000 Josper charcoal grill to churn out huge steaks and juicy slabs of meat. The latest final of Masterchef featured bone and caper sauce, burnt hay smoked meat, bone marrow and goat amongst the delicacies served up to the salivating judges. Hardly surprising then, that I should spot John Torode having lunch at Jamie Oliver’s new Barbecoa restaurant, overlooking St Paul’s, last week.

Food is going primordial and Jamie’s new venture, run in conjunction with New York ‘flame king’, Adam Perry Lang aims to cater for artery hardened carnivores. The open style Design Research Studio/Tom Dixon designed restaurant kitchen is fitted out with a fire it, charcoal grill, Indian tandoor, Japanese robata and Argnetinian parilla. Fay Maschler says, “It is a playground for the inner caveman that resides in every bloke who has ever stood over a barbecue burning sausages in his back garden.” The restaurant also buys whole animals and has its own in-house butcher to prepare old-style cuts of meat that are then cooked over wood.

I have to say, the food is startlingly good, though the establishment is let down by somewhat variable service – not so much the waiting staff, who are lovely, but the time taken for the food to arrive, if it actually does. It’s not exactly meaty, but I’d certainly recommend the baby root vegetable salad and the green basil (suspiciously ice cream like) sorbet is to die for – as is the Vin Santo flavour (both pictured above).

Meantime, over in Daltston, sustainable farming has gone to the high street, with FARM: London’s first indoor inner-city farm. Here customers are able to pick their own vegetables and even fish for their supper, there’s a chicken coup and pigs running around in the garden. If the idea of foraging for your dinner doesn’t appeal, other new concept food stores such as Union Market in Fulham work in conjunction with farmers and producers to bring ‘traceable, natural, region, high quality, best practice British food’ to the local consumer.

And it's not just our animal instincts that are being cultivated by food retailers and restaurateurs – dogs are now invited to join us for dinner. I know in France it’s quite common to dine out with a canine companion, but I hadn’t seen this anywhere else until, on a recent visit to California, I noticed that dogs were allocated their own special ‘yappy hour’ at one eaterie. Now there’s even a pop-up dog restaurant in London’s Pimlico. Lily’s Kitchen Diner, the capital’s first dedicated ‘doggy diner’ and specialist dog-care store is open until December 23rd,. Yesterday I saw pictures of celebrities dining alongside puppies at a fancy ball in London too – but then I realized it was the 150th anniversary of Battersea Dogs Home. In any case, dining with our pets is far from primordial – hopefully, it means we’re a long way from feasting on dog meat  for dinner.
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