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Restaurant Trends in the UK



Foodie trends have come a long way since Vesta curries were considered the height of sophistication in the 1970s.

Any restauranteur will know that it is just as important to know about the current foodie trends as it is to have a recognisable style and stick to it. No restaurant will survive if it just keeps following trends without having a style of its own.


A Brief History of Foodie Trends

It’s long been realised that the trends in restaurants reflect the current economic situation, so it will come as no surprise to know that the latest ‘places to be seen’ are focusing on dishes that are both comforting and cheap. There is a real push, especially in the most fashion-conscious cities where, perhaps, the customers drop in disposable income is more visible, for ‘nursery style’ food such as cottage pie and steamed puddings.


This latest trend has gathered pace as the global economic downturn takes hold, but until recently, traditional English food was not really en vogue, other than in a couple of ‘nose to tail’ eating establishments. Over the past thirty years, restaurant trends in the UK have been more lead by foods from particular countries, with the early to mid seventies seeing a rapid introduction of Chinese restaurants to the UK. Now there are thousands of Chinese/Cantonese restaurants in the UK, with many major cities, such as London, Manchester and Liverpool having their own Chinatown areas that have oriental supermarkets as well as restaurants and services.

Indian restaurants are also popular across the UK, with most towns having at least one. It is regularly stated that chicken tikka masala is the nation’s favourite dish, with practically every supermarket having a number of Indian ready meals available. It is well known that Indian restaurants in the UK are actually usually run by Bangladeshi families, with recipes that have been adapted to suit the Western palette.


Focus on Authenticity

However, as restaurant customers have become more discerning and more concerned with the ‘authenticity’ of their dining experience, a number of restaurant trends have emerged that offer a more realistic reflection of the food from its country of origin.


For the last fifteen or so years, oriental food from various countries has been showing an increase in popularity, with many towns now having a Thai restaurant and perhaps even a Japanese restaurant. There has even been a trend for seeing authentic Thai food served on pub menus as Thai families take over pub tenancies or simply run the kitchen. Japanese food has been a huge foodie trend in the UK, with most supermarkets selling packs of sushi alongside their sandwiches – although if that’s the only sushi you’ve tried (especially as the packs from a certain high end supermarket do not contain fish!) then you’ll be amazed at the difference in quality and taste when you first try ‘proper’ sushi. After all, sushi chefs train for seven years just to master making rice, let alone cutting fish!


Latest Trends

Prior to the current recession, which seems to have put paid to a lot of people going out for dinner, the latest foodie trends were leaning towards South America. Not just the big, juicy steaks from Argentina – that is SO 2007 – but more the smoked chipotle chile flavours of Peru. Mexico has also been a source of inspiration for a lot of newly opened places, with authentic burritos and salsas showing the wealth of difference between regional cuisine and the ‘Tex-Mex’ style that was popular in the 1990s.

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