In the face of foams, smears and amuses bouches comes lard, carbs and dogs. Gourmet street food has already been trend-spotted by the gluttonati, books written and awards given, yet burgers, dogs and bacon are still big news and getting bigger.
As Richard Johnson states in his newly published Street Food Revolution, Britain has a strong history of street food: "... as far back as the 12th century shopkeepers sold hot sheep's feet. By the 18th century they were hawking pies and pasties, and by the 19th it was warm eels, pickled whelks, oysters, fried fish and hot peas, with a slice of rhubarb tart for dessert." With the Victorians, came a sweeping distaste for the practice of eating food in public, but it seems that a combination of resourceful chefs, over-pricing and the gentrification of menu lexis has resulted in a greasy backlash. If you're sick of knowing your vichyssoise from your terrine or your ceviche from your julienne (the stealing of French and Italian terms is permissible under the umbrella term 'modern British fusion' ahem) then this is an unpretentious food movement for you.
Local, seasonal and reasonable by default. Yet street food is not only re-establishing itself in vans, huts and marquees for consumption on the hop, but is being given permanent residence in some of the capital's finer establishments. Bubbledogs, set to open in July, is the brain child of husband and wife team, James Knappett and Sandia Chang. Alongside champagne, there will be a menu of ten hot dogs - including the BLT dog which will be wrapped in bacon and served with truffle mayo and caramelised lettuce. A changing list of five cocktails echoes the fast food theme, featuring updated classics such as the Old Fashioned: bacon-infused Bourbon and maple syrup.
Both Knappett and Chang have serious credentials and have worked at the likes of The Berkeley, Per Se and Noma. "We are very excited to be opening our first restaurant together on Charlotte Street and to be introducing something a little different," explains James. As well as the dogs, there will be a bijoux dining area known as the Kitchen Table for 19 guests, serving intimate lunches and dinners. James will prepare, serve and talk about his dishes, led by an 'ideas board' which will feature his planning as well as guide diners through the menu, in a cookery-school-meets-restaurant experience.
By contrast - Meat Liquor under a multi-storey car park in London's Welbeck Street, has used burgers to flip the crisp white table-clothed world of genteel dining on its head: resembling a slaughterhouse, the environment is made to appear blood-spattered, wine is served in jam jars, expect outside queuing of up to 90 minutes and no sympathy from waiting staff. The result? Everyone wants some. Competing with the Spuntino sliders, Meat Liquor (and newly opened sister, Meat Market, Covent Garden) represents restaurant food at its most street.
Prices at Bubbledogs start at £6.00, a burger at Meat Liquor from £6.50 and don't worry about reserving a table. You can't.Suggest a correction