Charles Campion, food writer and critic, takes on today’s fine food issues

“Happy New Year?”

It’s the optimism that impresses. Anyone opening a restaurant must have a thick hide and determination aplenty. Every year hopeful restaurateurs remodel their dream restaurant sites and then watch their life savings gurgle down the plug hole as the public gives its verdict

But a small proportion of these new restaurants will catch the public’s fancy and prosper. For anyone interested in all things food and drink, studying the restaurant market can help reveal the future, and in the next four months there are a host of restaurant openings planned. This is where those extreme food trends first see the light of day. Here are just a few of the hopefuls trying their luck and opening soon. Which ones will make it? We have the rest of 2018 to find out.

Cora Pearl in Covent Garden is a solo venture from Tom Mullion who had such success with Kitty Fisher. The Good Egg deli will also be opening in Covent Garden with dishes inspired by the cuisine of Montreal and Israeli street food. Kudu will be bringing South African inspired dishes to Peckham with locally foraged ingredients. At Hicce (which means current in Latin), Pip Lacey, a protégé of Angela Hartnett, will be cooking over a wood fire and making much of traditional marinating, curing and pickling. Atticus – Soul food in North London from Iqbal Wahhab (he set up both the Cinnamon Club and Roast in Borough Market). Daddy Bao comes to Peckham Taiwanese food, buns, “smacked cucumber” anybody? L’Ami Malo Crepes and galettes from Northern France coming to Spitalfields. There’s to be a vegan mac ‘n’ cheese and quinoa taco salad. Farm Girl Chelsea Aussie food and health-conscious dishes.

The Royal Oak at Whatcote, here 80% of the meat served comes from the wild… “pigeon biltong” anyone? Ekte Nordic Kitchen all-day Nordic cuisine has new home in the City. Ruya Middle Eastern fine dining is coming to Victoria. Anatolyan cuisine. Avobar Has Covent Garden been waiting for this all avocado restaurant? Brat Tomos Parry (ex Kitty Fisher’s) opens in Shoreditch and names his venture after the Basque dialect name for turbot. Cooking on fire, with dishes from Welsh and Basque cuisines. Temakinho at Tower Bridge will be the second of these Japanese/Brazil fusion restaurants.

It’s hard to believe but this short list only scratches the surface of the openings this spring and shows off the astonishing vibrancy of the UK restaurant scene. As for spotting cuisines that will end up being the “next big thing in the foodie world” you get to choose from: Israeli Street Food; South African meats; Soul Food; Bao Buns; Jamaican specialties; Crepes; Vegan; Aussie Cuisine; Wild Meat; Foraged food; Nordic Cuisine; Anatolyan Cuisine; Avocados; Welsh Cuisine; Basque Cuisine; Japanese/ Brazilian fusion.

Imagine the stresses and strains of opening a restaurant – the decisions to be made. Then consider some of the stranger options above, because a proportion of them will succeed despite many of them looking very unlikely. Who knows, hidden in the long list of hopeful restaurant openings may be the one concept that tickles the public’s tummy? And hidden in that success may be the food trend that we would all like to spot.

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