Barbecue, banh mi, fine dining and even more barbecue
The start of 2015 means a customary look back over 2014 – and what a year it was. This seasonal retrospective is a little later than usual this year as I’ve been busy cranking out new reviews. As with previous retrospectives, I’m not going to recycle already-published reviews by spewing out a list of my favourite, or least favourite, restaurants of the year. I’ve tagged and categorised my reviews so you can do that yourself, if you want.
Instead, these retrospectives are about what you, the reader, like. This is something I’m always interested in and I’ve used two sets of numbers to try and gauge this – the number of views each of my reviews has received and the number of outgoing clicks to restaurants’ websites. For the first time, I’ve broken this out into two separate top ten lists: one for restaurants that have opened in 2014 and a separate All-Time popularity list. I’ve compiled the latter as reviews from previous years would otherwise have heavily skewed a single list – but those results are just as valid as those for restaurants which have opened in the past year. The results are both predictable and unexpected.
- Big Easy (Covent Garden)
- Banh Mi Hoi-An
- Fera at Claridge’s
- One Sixty
- Smoking Goat
- Miss P’s Barbecue
- Pitt Cue
- Texas Joe’s
- Big Easy (Chelsea)
- Flat Iron
Unsurprisingly, winners of some of my Best and Worst group tests and head-to-head comparisons dominate the All-Time list. The All-Time list was the least-surprising of the two – American-style barbecue eateries feature heavily, taking five spots. Interestingly, Bao comes in at No 5, no doubt driven by word that it will soon be acquiring permanent restaurant premises – very good news indeed. An honourable mention goes to Din Tai Fung which would’ve come in at No 11. A lot of you seem fascinated with this Taiwanese xiaolongbao chain. This surprises me as almost all of my other foreign restaurant reviews receive very little interest (I continue to write them out of sheer stubbornness and post-holiday melancholy).
The 2014 list was far less predictable. While the new Covent Garden branch of barbecue purveyor Big Easy nabbed the top spot, quality banh mi pit-stops Keu and Banh Mi Hoi-An weren’t too far behind – surprising for two restaurants in faraway east London serving a typically lunch-time food stuff. Casual yet inventive restaurants featured heavily with Tredwell’s, Heirloom and Barnyard making appearances. This gives me hope that London’s dining scene won’t forever be in the thrall of endless burger joints and other so-called ‘dirty food’ restaurants.
Additionally, plenty of you are willing to disregard my recommendations and visit Kurobuta and Fera at Claridge’s. These two were among my least favourite restaurants of the year and Fera’s high ranking is especially surprising. Expensive fine-dining restaurants have never figured highly in these retrospectives before. Almost as surprising was an appearance by Smoking Goat, a Thai barbecue restaurant that is one of my favourite new openings of the entire year, which snuck in despite only opening a few weeks ago.
If 2015 sees other restaurants following the example of Bao, Smoking Goat, Tredwell’s, Heirloom, Keu and Banh Mi Hoi-An then London will be in for a very happy New Year indeed.
-The Picky Glutton