Despite the recession, some of the world’s wealthiest people are investing in London. Properties are sold for record breaking prices and oil money is flowing through London’s cash tills.
So what does this mean? Well, better restaurants it would seem. Novikov was the first in a new wave of international investors in this sector. Arkady Novikov has 50 restaurants in Russia. His concept was simple yet brilliant, he would give Russians a taste of the West. He bought the rights to names such as Vogue and GQ and created restaurants that had an occidental appeal. This would make no sense in London, so he chose not one but two cuisines and united them under one roof. As trashy as it may sound, it is full on every occasion. So did his ‘x’ factor like appeal catch on with a cosmopolitan, cultured and needy population? I guess so.
Chefs such as Moreno Cedroni, Bruno Barbieri, Alvin Leung, Virgillo Martinez, Wolfgang Puck, just to name a few, have opened to a London audience. Michelin star chefs that have changed the way the world eats and should be enriching our palates by bringing different styles of cuisine to our doorstep, all sounds brilliant, right?
Well here lies my problem.
As a current Londoner who has travelled the world, I see one evident thing. Trends. Do we eat in restaurants because it’s trendy or because we believe that what we are eating and paying for is a real gastronomic experience? I’m leaning towards the former.
Having eaten in all the above places, and more recently at Coya, the latest Peruvian restaurant to pop up, I find myself leaving unsatisfied, if at all. My meal on Saturday at Coya was probably the final push I needed to make me write this piece. Are we being sold the belief that we are eating authentic Peruvian, Italian, Chinese or any other type of cuisine, or are we eating washed down recipes that have influence of these cuisines but are created just to satisfy the trendy London gobs.
I believe that for the longevity of a restaurant/chef in this fast moving and constantly changing city, sticking to what they know best and the basis of why they are good at is what they should insist on in their menus - not a watered down version of it. Trying to satisfy the taste buds of what you believe Londoners want is somewhat short sighted. The classics such as Alain Ducasse and Alain Roux will always be around because they have set their footprint down over the years. Trends come and go.
From a consumer’s point of view it might be best that trends are around so we always have somewhere new to go, but for those who are opening, maybe going back to your roots would guarantee you a slice of the cake, in what is arguably the most influential foodie city in the world.