Treacle tart. Yorkshire pudding. Blood sausage. British food hasn’t always had the best reputation. However their overall approach to dining offers a lot of lessons for us across the pond. On a recent vacation, I had the chance to eat some great food (not just fish and chips) and observe what makes our British friends’ mouths water. Here are a few awesome foodie trends that we should steal and make our own, a practice we’re familiar with.
Long-term Pop-ups: When Simon Rogan wanted to create a new restaurant in London in 2011, he went with a pop-up. Just last month, Roganic closed after receiving an outpouring of accolades and praise. The menu changed daily and wasn’t constrained by a theme. Pop-ups get a lot of guff for being trendy, but the idea is pure: use a temporary space to let the staff really get crazy and innovative. People are usually willing to spend more money at a pop-up, because they know they’ll never get the chance again. Chefs let their freak flags fly, because what have they got to lose? For chefs like Rogan, it’s a chance to go to a different city and serve a different crowd. Really, everyone wins.
Sunday Roasts: Brunch in San Antonio has gotten competitive. A recent trip to Southtown on Sunday morning found hour-long waits. The Brits avoid the brunch slam by offering an afternoon alternative: the Sunday roast. Traditionally served sometime on Sunday, the roast is a roasted meat, roasted vegetables and bread. Usually accompanied by a pint of beer or cider. Maybe a Yorkshire pudding or mint jelly on the side. Pubs that serve Sunday roast can make that the only option on Sunday afternoon, alleviating the frenzy of a brunch with dozens of menu items.
Tea Time: British tea is nothing new, but nevertheless local restaurants and cafes could learn something from the tradition. It’s not that complicated—it’s just a time to have light fare plus a little caffeinated pick-me-up and kick back. Offering some pastries, fruit and half-sandwich options to go along with some high-quality tea might not be as relaxing as a siesta, but it can help.
Pubs for the Whole Fam: I hate the noise, the food options and the constant presence of sports on the big screen in rowdy bars here in the U.S. Not in London. Pubs there are family-friendly places where you can get a pint, fish and chips, maybe even a room to stay in. Upscale pubs like Gordon Ramsay’s The Narrow combine a neighborhood watering hole and nice restaurant. Pubs in London run the gamut as far as casualness, but they are mostly non-seedy places where you can relax.