Weekend on a Plate

The weekend digested: slow growth for Tesco's discount store and the Chinese food revolution

The news, reviews and trends from September 14-15, including the effectiveness of CBD and the new book from the founders of London institution St. John.

16 September 2019
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Food news

Has Jack’s been a success for Tesco?

One year on from the grand unveiling of Tesco’s discount store format, The Guardian examines whether it has been a good gamble for the retailer. Jack’s has grown slower than originally anticipated, with an executive at a rival supermarket dismissing the £24m sales as “very small given the store footprints.” However, independent analysts say that more time is needed before making a judgment.

 

Little Dish takes on American kids

London-based Little Dish is taking its ready meals for toddlers to the USA, reports The Sunday Times. More than 175 Walmarts will begin to sell its nutritionist-approved “fresh meals for kids,” with founder Hillary Graves noting: “The millennial mother wants to feed her baby and toddler as close to home-made as is possible.”

Food trend

Chinese takeaway

China food expert Fuchsia Dunlop pens a piece for The Observer on the diversification of Chinese food in the UK, exploring how it has evolved from merely Cantonese cuisine adapted for the Western palate into a much broader range of Sichuan, Hunan and Xi’an flavours, while also noting that Chinese ingredients are much more widely available. “It remains to be seen whether we are at a peak of innovative Chinese cuisine in Britain, or on the brink of a multitude of new discoveries,” she concludes.

Getty Images

Effect of CBD is TBD

An estimated 1.3m Brits spend £300m a year on cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products, from consuming it as a drop of oil under the tongue to slurping it up as ice cream. It’s said to help with everything from pain and anxiety to epilepsy and psychosis, but does the science behind its alleged health benefits stack up? The Guardian digs into the available research, noting that while most studies have shown positive benefits, these are often small-scale efforts that relied on rats rather than humans – and use much higher doses than are found in most high-street edibles. While more sophisticated studies are currently underway at a number of universities, there are concerns over the placebo effect as well as whether some products are breaching the law by containing higher levels of THC – the principal psychoactive compound in cannabis – than are allowed.

 

Food interview

Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, founder of St. John

The Observer speaks to the men behind legendary London restaurant St. John ahead of the release of a new book to celebrate their 25 years of being in business. Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver’s The Book of St John is “part food gospel, part memoir, part recipe book,” detailing their philosophy of restaurants.

 

Gary Usher, chef and restaurateur

The brain behind popular bistros such as Wreckfish and Sticky Walnut talks to The Telegraph about keeping the menu simple and the importance of authenticity in attracting a following. Gary Usher has certainly managed to inspire diners – the majority of his restaurants have been crowdfunded, including Pinion, which is the subject of an upcoming Channel 4 documentary, The Rebel Chef: My Restaurant Revolution, showing on Thursday (September 19).

 

Food reviews

The Clove Club, London EC1V 9LT

Marina O’Loughlin gushes over the “firecracker creativity” at The Clove Club, aka the highest-ranked UK restaurant on the World’s 50 Best list. Her evening consists of everything from a “roll-it-yourself kinda-nigiri of salmon, nori and sour cream” and “minuscule crab tartlets, the hollandaise perfumed with elderflower and served as the ‘eyes’ in a spider-crab shell,” to the “frozen melon gazpacho with haunting smokiness from charcoal-scented cream and a cube of melting jamon de bellota jelly, like a dream of a Mediterranean beachfront barbecue.”

OKN1, London N1 6LR

Providing work experience for the students studying catering and hospitality and New City College, this spot serves up hot smoked salmon with baby gem lettuce, chicken Kiev and moules marinere. “If you were to draw up a list of dishes you think catering students should learn, it would look very much like the menu here at OKN1,” notes Jay Rayner. “Nothing will surprise you with its inventiveness. No envelopes are being pushed. Instead what they will do is sate your appetite very nicely, with dishes which combine blessed familiarity with faultless execution and at a price that makes sense.”

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