Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: Observer Food Monthly names its annual award winners

The news, reviews and trends from October 19-20, including why sales of British root veg are up and the ever-closer relationship between Morrisons and Amazon.

21 October 2019
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Food news

Oystermen named best restaurant by OFM

The Observer Food Monthly has released its annual awards, with The Oystermen Seafood Bar and Kitchen in London’s Covent Garden voted best restaurant by the public. Other notable winners include Jamie Oliver for best food personality, zero-waste supermarket The Clean Kilo in Birmingham for best ethical project, Xian specialist Master Wei for best newcomer and Khazana by former MasterChef winner Saliha Mahmood Ahmed for best cookbook. Recipe compiler Claudia Roden picked up the lifetime achievement award.

Chicken supplier suspected of fowl play

The Guardian reports on an emerging food scandal after Chinese antibiotics that were “suspected to be destined for unregulated use on a poultry farm in Northern Ireland” were intercepted at a British airport.


Costa sales slide

Sales of a zero-sugar version of Coke, a hybrid cola-coffee drink and mini cans of Coke have offset a Brexit-related slump in Costa Coffee sales, according to The Times.


Food trends

British root veg back in fashion

Traditional British vegetables are returning to favour, at least with Waitrose customers. The retailer saw double-digit growth in sales of swedes, celeriac and turnips, backed by increased searches for the veg online, notes The Telegraph. The rise is being attributed to a combination of concern over food miles and more high-end restaurants making the produce seem sexy again.

Food interviews

David Potts, CEO of Morrisons

The supermarket boss talk to The Times about the growing partnership between Morrisons and Amazon, noting that he expects 20 Morrisons stores to offer one-hour Amazon delivery by the end of the year and suggesting that the retailer might supply groceries to till-free Go stores in the future. Morrisons will also being offering hot food delivery via Deliveroo from a store in Canning Town in east London at the end of the month, as it explores another potential revenue source, following a similar trial by Sainsbury’s with pizza.


Food reviews

Flor, London SE1 9AL

Jay Rayner has mixed feelings for Flor, the highly touted new restaurant from James Lowe (of Lyle’s fame). Top marks go to the “summery loveliness” of the feta-sprinkled tart of roasted datterini tomatoes, served “on a rugged purée of violet aubergines,” as well as the prawns “dressed with the fragrant citrus and spice kick of orange yuzu kosho.” Less enthusiasm is given to salted anchovies with lardo (“the cured back fat is cut so thickly it’s less a silky shimmer than a duvet”) and the dish of summer vegetables with sesame (“turns out to be that old 70s stager crudités… crisp and also exceedingly bland”).

image credit: John Carey

Vardo, London SW3 4LY 9

Kathyrn Flett hails this brunch triumph from the people behind the Caravan restaurants, praising a successful attempt at “internationalist” cuisine, which includes green baked eggs, spinach, yogurt, refried frijoles negros, elote spice, feta and flatbread, and tamarind and coconut lamb mince on toasted sourdough, poached eggs, coriander and chilli.


Officina 00, London EC1V 9BW

“Officina 00 comes across as a pasta restaurant that’s way more Manhattan than Modena,” Marina O’Loughlin concludes of this pasta joint. The inauthenticity is part of the charm, she suggests, dipping into gnocchi with mashed pumpkin and smoked ricotta, as well as occhi stuffed with pork alla Genovese, “slow-cooked with wine and masses of sweet onion into a delirious slump, then dressed with buttery meat juices, a kind of parsley pesto and provolone cheese.” The unloved pollock, meanwhile, is turned into a “simply brilliant” fritto misto served with squid ink mayo.

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