10 annoying restaurant trends we want to leave behind in 2016

Chips are served a shopping trolley and cocktails in a jam jar in Dublin, while bread is offered in a flat cap in York
The horror: chips are served a shopping trolley and cocktails in a jam jar in Dublin, while bread is offered in a flat cap in York Credit: Twitter/WeWantPlates

1. Lack of plates

Remember when you could order a portion of chips and it wouldn’t joyride to your table in a miniature shopping trolley? Or when your pre-meal bread didn’t arrive in grandad’s flatcap? We’re not sure we do, given the way that chefs spent 2015 embroiled in identity crises as to whether they were running eateries or junk shops. But this year, we’d love restaurateurs to remind us.

2. Insanely spicy chicken wings

You know when you think to yourself: "Ooh, I’d love to eat a meal that’ll make me feel like I’ve swallowed hot razor blades!" Us neither. But given the amount of restaurants that launched eating challenges based around insanely hot chicken wing platters in 2015, apparently half the nation is desperate to end their meals doubled over in internal agony. 

3. Animals in restaurants

There’s a place for animals in restaurants: inside an oven. However, over the last 12 months, pop-up restaurants began to blur the lines between eaterie and travelling menagerie. There was a restaurant for dogs, an owl-based cocktail bar, cat cafes opening outside of London for the first time and a picnic where you could play with piglets, called (wait for it) The London Pignic. And here was us thinking you weren’t meant to play with your food…

The London Pignic took place last May

4. ‘Can’t be arsed’ cuisine

Nothing wrong with a restaurant focusing on doing one dish well. Unless, say, it’s porridge. Or Baked potatoes. Or toasted cheese sandwiches. Or anything else that you could serve up if your restaurant were called "Things You Cook At Home When You Can’t Be Arsed". Eating out at a restaurant’s meant to give you something you couldn’t create yourself. It isn’t meant to be a pricey recreation of the night before payday.

5. Tips not going to waitstaff

God, we love those poor, hard-working restaurateurs, don’t we? No wonder we leave tips for them: grafting away at long shifts with barely two Aston Martins to rub together. Oh no, wait. That’s not who we leave our tips for at all, is it? Still, didn’t stop the likes of many of them pocketing chunks of their servers’ hard-earned tips last year. We’d call it daylight robbery. Except that sometimes it happens during the hours of darkness.

2015 was the year a scandal over tips broke out

6. Not wanting to pay the phone bill

No bookings restaurants have been boring impatient diners for most of this decade. But 2015 is the first time we noticed hipster eateries failing to even bother owning a phone and relying entirely on internet-based communication. How do you call to tell them you’re running late? Or ask them for directions if you’re lost? Or get a response to a query at a pace that’s not dictated by how regularly the hipster maitre d’ can be bothered to pull his iPhone out of the back pocket of his scruffy jeans? You don’t, sadly.

7. Stupid sandwich boards

This year, venues have gone nuts for blaring kooky slogans at pedestrians from pavement chalkboards. Some of them are great (a particular recent favourite being "I don’t want to get technical or anything, but according to chemistry, alcohol is a solution’"). But it’s gotten out of hand. One coffee shop even sent Twitter into meltdown when it erected a sign hurling misogynistic abuse at women who wear Ugg Boots (we won’t name it – that’s what they want). In 2016, we’d love to see the writing on the wall for this trend (and not the blackboard).

Not so amusing? Sandwichboards like this are now de rigeur Credit: Twitter / @McrPaleAle

8. Cold beverages

The most curiously smug trend of the last 12 months? Producing drinks in a way that allows you to use the prefix ‘cold’. If you drank a glass of juice in a trendy restaurant in 2015, chances were that it was ‘cold pressed’. If someone told you about their fave new coffee, most likely they described it as ‘cold brew’. As far as we can tell, creating beverages at low temperature makes precisely zero difference to its flavour. Hardly cold fusion.

9. Lying ingredients

Once upon a time, rice was a grain, pasta was made from wheat and milk came from cows. But in 2015, the spiralising industry attempted to claim that courgette shavings were spaghetti. Paleo diet health nuts started trying to claim that grated caulfiflower was rice. And judging by the way that people started bandying about the term ‘nut milk’, you’d think almonds had teats. How about in 2016, we just call food what it actually is, eh?

Courgette shavings: definitely not spaghetti Credit: Christopher Jones

10. Savoury doughnuts

2015: the year that doughnuts jumped the shark. The trend for stuffing doughnuts with fillings you’d expect to find in a sandwich is something we’re blaming on Chiltern Firehouse – who decided back in 2014 that nothing said ‘delicious’ like combining a sugary dessert with seafood (with white crab, to be precise). But this year, people really started going hell for leather with the unholy combinations of dessert and main course. There were bacon doughnuts, katsu curry doughnuts, doughnuts topped with foie gras shavings, doughnuts filled with burgers… the list goes on. But we sort of wish the trend wouldn’t.