Page 0068

66 | squaremeal.co.uk

restaurants � food

mouthing o ff Pop-ups here, pop-ups there, pop-ups everywhere. Square Meal strips away the

hype to see if these oh-so-hip venues are worth shouting about WORDS NEIL SIMPSON

I recently found

myself standing

on an east London

pavement, waiting

for my chance to pop

into Fairground. This

weekend-only venture

promises three  oors

of music, debate and (most importantly) food,

to be supplied by di  erent contributors each

week. When I arrived at midday there was a

€ dgeting crowd of optimists outside and a

 urry of stressed individuals

milling around. Eventually we

were asked to form an orderly

queue, then told to return

later. I never went back.

This experience was

particularly disappointing

because pop-ups o  er a

di  erent type of anticipation to a permanent

restaurant, fuelled by the allure of something

fresh,  eeting and € nite. Hype  ourishes

in such fertile conditions and social media

ensure that it's never been easier to stoke the

€ re. Building expectations for a new pop-up

is easy, but meeting them is a di  erent

matter, making this culinary trend tricky to

navigate. In short, are they worth the e  ort?

The potential power of a pop-up is

undeniable. Five years before becoming head

chef at Chiltern Firehouse, Nuno Mendes ran

The Loft Project - a dining experiment that

took place in the same road as Fairground.

The space allowed for a single table of diners

to sample the creations of a guest chef,

keeping overheads low and possibilities high.

One hit act was The Young Turks - a trio of

chefs who proclaimed 'we have worked in

some of the best kitchens in the world, and

now we want to do it our way'.

To prove the point, former Turk James

Lowe recently opened Lyle's in Shoreditch

(see review p.46), while one-time sidekick

Isaac McHale now helms the crowd-funded

Clove Club. Other recent success stories

include Dock Kitchen graduate Stevie Parle,

who now runs hot-ticket Rotorino in Dalston.

And then there are the Pizza Pilgrims -

proof that the pop-up strategy can be a

cunning way of invading chain territory. From

a van, street stall and temporary residency in

Brick Lane, the Pilgrims have moved on to a

permanent Soho address. Co-founder James

Elliot points out that a pop-up meant they

'had a customer base to go to', so did not

need to build a following from scratch.

All of which sounds great, but it hides the

pitfalls of pop-ups. Elliot recalls the problems

caused by inclement weather, while punters

who have visited other venues complain

about food running out quickly, slow or

chaotic service, and arrogantly high prices

- particularly infuriating, given that most

customers would probably forgive wobbles

as long as the whole thing was a  ordable.

On the downside, big brands and large

corporations are now starting to jump on

the bandwagon - witness Wahaca's Mexican

installation on the Southbank and British

Airways' temporary restaurant within an

airplane cabin during the London Olympics.

Venues are also coining the phrase simply

to describe seasonal food or drinks, as in a

'pop-up summer bar' where nothing seems

to have popped up aside from some beach

balls, piña coladas and pro€ t margins.

A successful pop-up can introduce you to

pigeon burgers, deep-fried insects or dinner

in a hot chef's living room. On the other hand,

what's the point of eating in a shipping crate

if the company behind it is loaded? Clearly,

fresh labels are needed for

these temporary enterprises,

because good pop-ups are

irresistibly fun.

Fairground may have

had a false start, but for

entrepreneurial spirit alone

it still deserves respect - and,

yes, another go in the queue.

Neil Simpson is Square Meal's editorial assistant

Pop-ups off er a type of

anticipation fuelled by the allure of

something fresh, fl eeting and fi nite

POP�UP PROS

High potential for fun

'I had dinner at Nuno Mendes' house'

Exclusive and € nite

Ahead of the curve

An outlet for promising chefs

POP�UP CONS

High potential for hunger

'Can you come back in two hours please?'

Corporate abuse

Empty social media hype

An outlet for talentless chefs

Index

  1. Page 0001
  2. Page 0002
  3. Page 0003
  4. Page 0004
  5. Page 0005
  6. Page 0006
  7. Page 0007
  8. Page 0008
  9. Page 0009
  10. Page 0010
  11. Page 0011
  12. Page 0012
  13. Page 0013
  14. Page 0014
  15. Page 0015
  16. Page 0016
  17. Page 0017
  18. Page 0018
  19. Page 0019
  20. Page 0020
  21. Page 0021
  22. Page 0022
  23. Page 0023
  24. Page 0024
  25. Page 0025
  26. Page 0026
  27. Page 0027
  28. Page 0028
  29. Page 0029
  30. Page 0030
  31. Page 0031
  32. Page 0032
  33. Page 0033
  34. Page 0034
  35. Page 0035
  36. Page 0036
  37. Page 0037
  38. Page 0038
  39. Page 0039
  40. Page 0040
  41. Page 0041
  42. Page 0042
  43. Page 0043
  44. Page 0044
  45. Page 0045
  46. Page 0046
  47. Page 0047
  48. Page 0048
  49. Page 0049
  50. Page 0050
  51. Page 0051
  52. Page 0052
  53. Page 0053
  54. Page 0054
  55. Page 0055
  56. Page 0056
  57. Page 0057
  58. Page 0058
  59. Page 0059
  60. Page 0060
  61. Page 0061
  62. Page 0062
  63. Page 0063
  64. Page 0064
  65. Page 0065
  66. Page 0066
  67. Page 0067
  68. Page 0068
  69. Page 0069
  70. Page 0070
  71. Page 0071
  72. Page 0072
  73. Page 0073
  74. Page 0074
  75. Page 0075
  76. Page 0076
  77. Page 0077
  78. Page 0078
  79. Page 0079
  80. Page 0080
  81. Page 0081
  82. Page 0082
  83. Page 0083
  84. Page 0084
  85. Page 0085
  86. Page 0086
  87. Page 0087
  88. Page 0088
  89. Page 0089
  90. Page 0090
  91. Page 0091
  92. Page 0092
  93. Page 0093
  94. Page 0094
  95. Page 0095
  96. Page 0096
  97. Page 0097
  98. Page 0098
  99. Page 0099
  100. Page 0100
  101. Page 0101
  102. Page 0102
  103. Page 0103
  104. Page 0104
  105. Page 0105
  106. Page 0106
  107. Page 0107
  108. Page 0108
  109. Page 0109
  110. Page 0110
  111. Page 0111
  112. Page 0112
  113. Page 0113
  114. Page 0114
  115. Page 0115
  116. Page 0116
  117. Page 0117
  118. Page 0118
  119. Page 0119
  120. Page 0120
  121. Page 0121
  122. Page 0122
  123. Page 0123
  124. Page 0124
  125. Page 0125
  126. Page 0126
  127. Page 0127
  128. Page 0128
  129. Page 0129
  130. Page 0130
  131. Page 0131
  132. Page 0132
  133. Page 0133
  134. Page 0134
  135. Page 0135
  136. Page 0136
  137. Page 0137
  138. Page 0138
  139. Page 0139
  140. Page 0140
  141. Page 0141
  142. Page 0142
  143. Page 0143
  144. Page 0144
  145. Page 0145
  146. Page 0146
  147. Page 0147
  148. Page 0148
  149. Page 0149
  150. Page 0150
  151. Page 0151
  152. Page 0152
  153. Page 0153
  154. Page 0154
  155. Page 0155
  156. Page 0156
  157. Page 0157
  158. Page 0158
  159. Page 0159
  160. Page 0160
  161. Page 0161
  162. Page 0162
  163. Page 0163
  164. Page 0164
  165. Page 0165
  166. Page 0166
  167. Page 0167
  168. Page 0168
  169. Page 0169
  170. Page 0170
  171. Page 0171
  172. Page 0172
  173. Page 0173
  174. Page 0174
  175. Page 0175
  176. Page 0176
  177. Page 0177
  178. Page 0178
  179. Page 0179
  180. Page 0180
  181. Page 0181
  182. Page 0182
  183. Page 0183
  184. Page 0184
  185. Page 0185
  186. Page 0186
  187. Page 0187
  188. Page 0188
  189. Page 0189
  190. Page 0190
  191. Page 0191
  192. Page 0192
  193. Page 0193
  194. Page 0194
  195. Page 0195
  196. Page 0196
  197. Page 0197
  198. Page 0198
  199. Page 0199
  200. Page 0200
  201. Page 0201
  202. Page 0202
  203. Page 0203
  204. Page 0204
  205. Page 0205
  206. Page 0206
  207. Page 0207
  208. Page 0208
  209. Page 0209
  210. Page 0210
  211. Page 0211
  212. Page 0212
  213. Page 0213
  214. Page 0214
  215. Page 0215
  216. Page 0216
  217. Page 0217
  218. Page 0218
  219. Page 0219
  220. Page 0220

Related Issues

powered by PageTiger