What has happened to the food served in an increasing number of restaurants in London?
It was bad enough when Fusion cuisine began its infiltration of the capital’s kitchens back in the 1970s, combining elements of different culinary traditions. For the 20 years that followed it was, although queer in some cases and an acquired taste in others (Italian Thai cooked by an Austrian chef anyone?), describable in a couple of geographic terms.
Regional fusion combined different cuisines of a region or sub-region into a single eating experience. Asian fusion restaurants combining the various cuisines of different Asian countries became a mainstay on many UK high streets.
Tex-Mex took southwest United States cuisine and mixed it with Mexican. Pacific Rim smashed together the different cuisines of the various island nations that surround that ocean.
But my wife Louise came back from an evening with friends in Soho earlier this week and tried to explain what was on offer at Aurora, the restaurant where they all met up in Lexington Street.
Purporting to offer “a seasonal Modern European menu”, Lou looked distinctly puzzled when I asked her what she had had.
“Warm Salt Beef with Sun-Blush Cherry Tomatoes, Grilled Artichokes, Black Olives, Red Peppers and Rocket Salad with Basil Pesto” had been her starter.
One of the others had, for some reason, chosen as a main course “Pan-fried Fillet of Trout on New Potatoes, Sauté Fennel and Tenderstem Broccoli with Coriander, Lime, Chilli and Coconut Dressing and Toasted Almonds”.
The feeling was that they were all pleased the place was where it was, and not too badly priced for that part of town, but this menu was less an appropriate fusion and more of a cacophony of con-fusion food.