As the year winds down, here are the stories that were the most popular reads on Hot Dinners in 2021...
Not actually being able to go to the USA for most of 2021 has clearly left folk looking forward to a slice of Americana. And so, it was the news that Wendy's was returning to the UK that became our number one story in 2021. They've now opened two burger restaurants in Stratford and Croydon, with a third opening very soon in Camden.
it really seems that the Big Mamma Group can do no wrong. Their third opening in London, following Gloria and Circolo Popolare, was just as popular as those that came before it. Once again it came with over-the-top decor and this time they added huge ice cream cakes to the mix.
After about three years in the planning, the man who sprinkles salt for a living finally landed in the UK, announced only by his Instagram feed. The restaurant was an immediate hit with queues around the block, but there was no getting around that this was a VERY expensive place to eat out and Londoners could get better steaks for much less all over town. Salt Bae certainly earned those column inches - but will the restaurant still pull in the punters when he's not in the country? We'll see.
Even before we all developed full-blown obsessions about Squid Game, this Korean restaurant was already becoming a sleeper hit on the edges of Chinatown (along with the dive bar Hongdae Pocha). The main draws are their corn dogs and hot dogs; they were immediate Insta and TikTok hits translating into perma-queues on Charing Cross Road. Unsurprisingly, there's already a second restaurant being planned.
One of the things that dominated eating out in 2021 was alfresco dining - particularly as it was the only option when everything opened up in April. So the news of a huge alfresco space opening in Bromley (neighbourhood dining was also big) proved very popular.
Along with alfresco (and very much in the same vein) rooftops were also a big thing in 2021 - hence the popularity of Maya. This saw the rooftop of The Hoxton in Shoreditch taken over by Soho House (who know a thing or two about Shoreditch rooftops) for a Mexican restaurant that arrived here via LA.
We did say that rooftops were popular - so it's not surprising to find another rooftop story appearing in our top 10. Sabine boasted an amazing view over St Paul's as its main USP.
We had a few new people entering the chicken business this year (DJ Khaled being particularly notable) but it was The Sidemen who proved particularly popular with Hot Dinners readers. They're huge on YouTube and they've clearly managed to channel this interest into their fried chicken business too.
When Hot Dinners started just over 10 years ago, one of the big names on the scene was Russell Norman and his debut restaurant Polpo - a place that truly redefined dining in London. This year he returned to the scene with Trattoria Bruitto - his take on a Tuscan restaurant, transported to Clerkenwell. An instant hit, it showed that Russell still has his finger on the pulse.
There was a point during the early lockdown of 2021 where we started to wonder if an Italian superstore in The City could really bring in the business mid-pandemic. But Eataly has proven to be a bona fide success - either in the bars and restaurants or the huge store where you're tempted to buy everything.
More from 2021
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