Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: McDonald’s criticised for Monopoly and Sainsbury’s plans to limit online ordering

The news, reviews and trends from March 16-17, including the rise of banana blossom as a meat alternative and a reconsideration of Wagamama’s sites in the States.

18 March 2019
meal kitsmeatmeat alternativerestaurant openingrestaurantssupermarkets

Food news

McDonald’s Monopoly promotion attracts obesity-related criticism

The Shadow Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport is urging McDonald’s to cancel its Monopoly promotion, which begins this week. Tom Watson cited Britain’s obesity crisis as a reason to ditch the initiative, stating: “It is appalling that your company’s Monopoly marketing ploy encourages people to eat more unhealthy foods by offering sugar-filled desserts as rewards.” McDonald’s has responded by pointing out that a number of healthy items, including carrot bags and salads, will also be stamped with prize stickers, adding that nutritional information is clearly displayed in store and online, reports The Guardian.

 

Wagamama considers halting US growth

The Restaurant Group may decide to reel in expansion plans for Wagamama’s expansion in America, according to The Times, which notes that the company is reviewing its operations Stateside.

 

Sainsbury’s to limit online orders

“Sainsbury’s has begun drawing up plans to restrict the quantities of some goods that can be ordered online in an effort to stop consumers stockpiling,” reveals The Sunday Times, adding: “The plans have been decided amid claims that supermarkets’ food stocks could be depleted within just four days – with shoppers facing almost empty shelves within five days of a no-deal Brexit.” The news comes as evidence emerges of Brits quietly stockpiling non-perishable goods and water, with supermarket delivery drivers saying that there has been a noticeable rise in the volume of orders.

image credit: Getty Images

Was CMA assessment of Sainsbury’s-Asda rife with miscalculation?

Mathematical errors and flawed data gathering are among the criticisms Sainsbury’s has levelled at the Competition and Markets Authority, in the wake of a damning provisional report on the retailer’s proposed tie-up with Asda that “all but killed the merger,” according to The Times.

 

Food trends

Meal kit money

The Observer takes a look at the increasing popularity of meal kits in the UK, noting that sales have more than doubled for the top three suppliers over the past year. Hello Fresh, Gousto and Mindful Chef are praised by the article for helping home cooks to learn new kitchen skills (such as how to prepare fish) and provide healthier, more transparent meals for families. However, while subscription services do help to combat food waste, there is concern that the amount of plastic used is unsustainable.

Meat malcontents

Consumption of meat has become the food issue of our time, according to The Observer, which digs into several strands of the argument, from greenhouse gases and the large proportion of farmland taken up by cattle, to eating more high-quality product with impeccable provenance. However, the paper also suggests that while a meat tax might be essential to cutting down British intake of meat, that would mean pricing out poorer sections of society from eating beef.

 

The blossoming of a new meat alternative

Banana blossom will soon be available in plant-based meals from Sainsbury’s, reports The Guardian. The retailer has experimented with making the ingredient into “a battered cod-esque fillet” – much like Sutton & Sons – as well as putting it into dumplings and croquettes instead of mince.

 

Food reviews

Pompette, Oxford OX2 7JL

Jay Rayner follows Giles Coren through the doors at this French affair to gorge on traditional rillettes and terrines. He enjoys the whole globe artichoke accompanied by mustard-spiced vinaigrette as well as the hake served atop Umbrian lentils, but is most colourful in his praise of dessert: “An impeccable disc of meringue, piped into the curls and curlicues of Georgian cornicing, is filled with whipped cream and piled with candy pink rhubarb and bright green pistachio nuts.”

image credit: Pompette

The Crown, London W4 1PD

Kathryn Flett drops in on the latest opening from the Harcourt Inns group and is impressed with the lunch set – wild garlic soup with toasted sourdough, braised shoulder of lamb with olive oil mash and fried artichokes, and passion fruit and rhubarb pavlova for £19 – though she laments its “slightly soulless” atmosphere.

 

Mr Chow, London SW1X 7PA

In a tribute to how diverse and authentic Chinese cuisine has become in the UK capital, Marina O’Loughlin is appalled by the expensive, unappetising food at this long-time London institution, which once upon a time was seen as a highlight of the city’s Chinese restaurants. “Fifty years after its arrival, the food is still memorable. Memorably awful: old-fashioned, ham-fisted, flung onto its metal dishes with all the grace of a motorway services station,” writes the critic.

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