It's been the year that brought us gourmet jacket potatoes, the cereal cookbook and bacon-flavoured gin. From the weird and wonderful to the undeniably tasty, here are the 10 dining trends that got us talking in 2015.
1. Single-dish restaurants
Choice went by the wayside as restaurants that focus on one signature dish or ingredient began popping up everywhere. From meatballs at Balls & Company, hot dogs at Top Dog and all things ovoid at Egg Break - the trend reached its pinnacle in October when The Potato Project opened in Soho, selling baked potatoes with upmarket toppings, such as shepherd’s pie ragu and salted ricotta, and prawn with bourbon marie rose sauce.
Try it: Cheese toastie specialists Melt Room do a mean Nutella and mascarpone sandwich (pictured).
If there were a vegetable of the year award (and we would love to see that), then 2015 would be the year of the cauliflower. Once a staple of childhood dinners, this year the humble brassica broke free from its cheese-smothered past. From cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crusts to cauliflower chucked on the grill and chargrilled whole, chefs and food bloggers everywhere proved that the vegetable is way more versatile - and tasty - than we once thought.
Try it: Berber & Q’s cauliflower shawarma with tahini (pictured) is deliciously smoky and tender - a real game-changer.
3. Bottomless brunch
Brunch? Great. Brunch with limitless booze? Goodbye weekend. Fresh from New York, a wave of brunch spots started offering endless booze (well, for a two-hour period, at least) in the capital this year. From Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell with unlimited bellinis to free-flow gochujang-spiced bloody marys at Bad Egg in Moorgate, 2015 was the year that breakfast got very boozy indeed.
Try it: Bored with the usual egg/toast/bacon brunch fare? Head to Lima Floral for a Peruvian take on the trend (think suckling pig brioche and quinoa porridge) with free prosecco refills.
4. Avocado everything
There was no escaping the avocado in 2015, from the ubiquitous weekend avo toast Instagram pic (there are nearly 3 million posts with the hashtag #avocado) to avocado, honey and vanilla ice lollies in Anna Jones’s A Modern Way To Cook and even an espresso and avocado frappe at Granger & Co. Who knew the once maligned fruit would come to be such a hipster favourite?
Try it: Balthazar’s avocado on toast with a poached egg wins it for us every time.
5. Posh takeaway
For the eternally lazy/perpetually hungover, reprieve came this year thanks to a range of new (and growing) companies bringing food direct to your door. You can’t walk down a street in central London without seeing a Deliveroo bike whizzing past, and in 2015 the brand branched out to a further 27 (yes, 27) UK towns and cities from Glasgow to Guildford. Meanwhile, lunch delivery companies like Eat First and Lunch BXD brought Londoners gourmet midday meals to their desks (leaving you more time to Reclaim Your Lunch Break, of course). And in September, new delivery app Supper launched, a one-stop shop for Michelin-starred cuisine from the likes of Tamarind and Benares, as well as fine wine pairings all delivered in chic black bags. Takeaway is on the up.
Try it: We rate Karma Cans, who deliver delicious seasonal lunches (including great veggie options) to offices in London in cute tiffin tins.
6. Matcha ice cream
One of the year’s most Instagrammed dishes, the kinako french toast with matcha soft serve ice cream from Shackfuyu is worthy of the hype. The hot sugary crust, soft middle and subtle Mr Whippy-style matcha ice cream works amazingly together. Even Nigella included a recipe for no-churn matcha ice cream in her latest book Simply Nigella and frankly, if it’s got the Nigella seal of approval, it’s got ours too.
Try it: Bone Daddies pop-up Shackfuyu on Old Compton Street has finally gone permanent (cue fist pumps) and launched a new menu - but don’t worry, the french toast and matcha soft serve are here to stay.
7. Steamed buns
If you’ve happened across Soho’s Lexington Street in the last eight months, you can’t fail to have missed the long queue snaking its way to tiny Taiwanese bun joint Bao. Opened in April, London soon went mad for the pillowy soft white buns stuffed with everything from braised pork and peanut powder to panko-crumbed daikon with hot sauce and an out-of-this-world deep-fried Horlicks-ice-cream-stuffed dessert bun. See also: Flesh & Buns, Yum Bun and Top Bun (OK, maybe we made that last one up).
Try it: Soon to open Mr Bao on Peckham’s Rye Lane. We like the sound of the bao s’mores with marshmallow and honeycomb ice cream.
8. Grown-up sweets
Move over chocolate liqueurs, there’s a new boozy sweet in town. Pick 'n' mix favourites got an adult makeover in 2015 with the emergence of edible alcoholic sweets from Smith & Sinclair, who have a pop-up Eat Your Drink store on London’s Carnaby Street until Christmas Eve. Continuing the theme (albeit on a slightly more sober note) were the rise of artisan marshmallows from the likes of The London Marshmallow Company, posh meringues from The Meringue Girls and superfood chocolates from Doisy & Dam. Leave the Haribo to the kids.
Try it: The piña colada dib dabs at Smith & Sinclair are a tangy treat.
9. Fermented everything
You can’t have made it through 2015 without seeing kimchi appearing on a menu somewhere (and not just at Korean restaurants), while other fermented foods such as sauerkraut and koji rice have become increasingly popular. DIY fermenters have also been trying their hand at making their own pickles thanks to a slew of books teaching us how to ferment at home. With fermented foods credited as being packed with antioxidants and helping to keep your gut healthy, this is one trend we can see sticking around.
Try it: The Kimcheese toasted sandwich (blue cheese with kimchi - trust us, it just works) from F.A.T by Freddie at Druid Street Market is a thing of wonder.
10. Nordic cooking
The fashion pack went mad for the cinnamon buns at Swedish bakery Fabrique in Shoreditch this summer, while nearby Rök Smokehouse received rave reviews for its smoked short-rib and pickles. Finally, in October, the head chef of remote restaurant Fäviken (voted 25th best restaurant in the world), Magnus Nilsson, released his second cookbook (the aptly titled The Nordic Cook Book after three years of research. Looks like it’s not just our wardrobes and homes that will continue to be influenced by all things Nordic.
Try it: Head to Fika on Brick Lane for meatballs, mash and lingonberry jam followed by a slice of sticky chocolate Kladdkaka cake.