2016 is the Barbican Kitchen’s 10th year in business. Here, the Tanner Brothers share the biggest changes they’ve noticed in the South West's food scene
Early evenings and late lunches make a come back There has been a massive shift in dining habits in the last decade, with eating out becoming a more relaxed affair and a lot more accessible. Although weekends at the Barbican Kitchen in Plymouth remain the restaurant’s busiest time, trade is a lot more evenly dispersed throughout the week than it was 10 years ago. Early evening dining and late lunches have also made a come back. We’re seeing birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions being celebrated early or mid-week rather than just at weekends.
Availability of finest quality produce in the West Country We have always been spoilt for choice with the finest quality produce in the West Country, from the best meats such as to day boat fish, on our doorstep. For example, our menu has included beautiful meat such as cured West Country beef and moorland ribeye, as well as a wide selection of fresh fish such as mackerel, haddock, stonebass and lemon sole. Plus, the slightly milder South West climate is ideal for growing some lovely vegetables such as chantenay carrots and spring greens. Over the past decade, the local produce available to us has enabled us to experiment and create exciting new dishes.
Greater concern for provenance and sustainability The last decade has seen restaurant-goers expectations change quite dramatically. People are a lot more educated now than 10 years ago when it comes to food. Diets have changed and people are more conscious of where their food comes from. Local and sustainable sourcing of produce has always been important to us as Chefs but it's great to see our customers taking more of an interest and caring about what they eat. By keeping it local, Barbican Kitchen is also supporting the South West’s economy.
Travel and exposure to food from different cultures has opened up our taste buds Travel and exposure to food from different cultures both at home and overseas has opened up our taste buds to new foods. Barbican Kitchen customers are increasingly well-travelled, have ventured further afield and are therefore open to more adventurous menu choices. For example, our Asian inspired dishes have included Udon Noodle Bowl and Five Spiced Tofu have proved popular.
Restaurants better equipped to meet special dietary requirements From catering for customers with allergies and food intolerances to devising gluten free dishes and providing inspired vegetarian and vegan menu options, catering for special dietary requirements is a big part of everyday life as a restaurateur and will increasingly be so in the coming decade. So mouth-watering are our gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan dishes at Barbican Kitchen that we’re finding that many of our meat eating customers are drawn to these menu items too.
Revisiting the old and discovering the new Restaurant menus have evolved over the last decade. For example, some of the cheaper cuts of meat are very fashionable again and can be made into something quite special in the right hands. We’re also seeing new or lesser known ingredients, such as heritage tomatoes and fish such as Ling becoming more recognisable and widely used.
Simplicity key to preparing classics In the past decade we have seen modernisation in cooking techniques and the advancement of equipment. However, when it comes to preparing classic West Country dishes we believe in the old adage "if it's not broken don't fix it”. Although we do experiment with classics such as fish and chips made with beer batter and triple cooked potatoes, after 10 years we know that simplicity is still the key.
West Country is a “Mecca” for Foodies The last 10 years has seen the food scene change dramatically. This has been really positive, with the region now regarded as a ‘Mecca’ for foodies and more people visiting than ever before. We saw the popularity of Devon 17 years ago when we first opened our doors for business at Tanners in Plymouth. Greater awareness of what the West Country has to offer, not just in terms of food but the whole "lifestyle" package, has been great for trade at Barbican Kitchen.
Regional producers rivalling the big cities We consider ourselves so lucky to live in a part of the world which has everything we need on our doorstep. These days, people don’t have to go to London or other major cities to eat well. There are some stunning artisan producers in our region and local farmers that really care about the future of the food industry.
Nurturing the next generation key to success of food industry We feel that it’s important to pass on our skills and knowledge to future generations, whether they are front of house or working in the kitchen. In fact, we love that part of our industry. After 10 years of business, it’s great to see the next generation, whether staff or customers, coming through the Barbican Kitchen doors.
The Barbican Kitchen
Plymouth Gin Distillery
60 Southside Street
Devon PL1 2LQ
01752 604448 www.barbicankitchen.com
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