Monday, May 30, 2011

How to create the hottest restaurant in the Western Hemisphere

In London, the history of food trends over the past three centuries looks like this:
Asian fusion and square plates are bordering on the faddy, as far as London eating goes. Other cuisines come and go, and the unassailable march of Wagamanas and Busaba Eathai means the Asian trend is here to stay.

At the heart of its mainstream, however, British cuisine remains resolutely old school. The food is way better, and some artsy touches might now accompany your fish & chips (for example the smear of pea puree St John's Wood's Salt House adorn their plates with). But you're still basically eating fish & chips.

New York, like LA, is a little faddier, I think. Culinary trends flare up here in a nanosecond and consume all in their path.

I haven't yet really scratched the surface of the NY restaurant scene. But I'm starting to observe some trends:

1. Single minded street food offerings. Like Porchetta, which literally only sells roast pork. Incredible roast pork, at that. It helps, by the way, if you charge a slightly elevated price for your street food. How is the man on the street to know the difference between your burger and the $5 street version, unless you charge, well, more than $5?

2. Hard to get into. Either because you have to book weeks in advance (see Momofuku for example). Or because the restaurant is taking a faux-egalitarian stance, and not taking reservations. I say faux because I think their real motivation is that nice long line of waiting customers on the street. Brilliant advertising. The excellent Mary's Fish Camp does this, and it's well worth the 60 minute wait.

So I'm thinking that if moving post-its around for a living does not work out, I'll launch an incredibly hip restaurant. Here's my concept:

Isadora's 11am Tuesday Fish Finger Sandwich Shop

  • Opens at 11am every Tuesday.
  • No reservations. Customers must wait in line. (I may arbitrarily select a good looking man to come to the front of the queue).
  • Sells fish finger sandwiches, and only fish finger sandwiches - till I run out.
  • The only choice is 'white bread or brown'. Occasionally I will do a milk roll special.
  • No charge for ketchup, mayo or tartare sauce.
  • I reckon if I charge $10 a sarnie, I could be sold out by noon with enough money to pay for my dinner at that place that only serves mac'n'cheese.
Are you in?


  1. Can't I book? :)

    And when will Mary's fishcamp open up in the UK?

  2. Hmmm, perhaps I'll have a secret phone number for friends only. That'll ruin the egalitarian vibe in a very hip way.

  3. I think you are diluting the purity of your model by offering brown bread – fish finger sandwiches should only be eaten on white bread (or, as you say, a milk roll)
    Other than that I think you’re onto a winner and it would be a sure-fire hit
    However, if you could find a way to import proper bacon and sell bacon sandwiches (between 11 – 12 on a Wednesday) you’d probably become the gastronomic ruler of NYC