That a certain dish or ingredient should be in fashion is no new thing: think 1970s, think fondue and Black Forest gâteau, while anyone who dinner-partied their way through the 1990s may still be sick of the sight of a sun-dried tomato. But we do seem to live in ever more faddy times. Despite the recession, restaurants keep popping up, and we'll queue around the block for whatever is deemed hot stuff.
Lately, that seems to be… meat. And not fine slivers of foie gras: this is more down'n'dirty, rough'n'ready grub – albeit made with best-quality ingredients. Old-fashioned pub snacks have never been hipper, with pork pies and Scotch eggs served alongside your craft beer, or showing up whenever canapés needs to signify "authentic" rather than snooty. But be prepared: pies may still come pimped with caramelised onions or red currants; eggs may hail from a quail.
Then there's jazzed-up American-diner fare: hot dogs are served with champagne at the recently opened Bubbledogs, while fancy burgers come in artisan buns at places such as Meat Liquor or Dirty Burger. Southern-style, all-American barbecue is also sizzling; suddenly all pork is pulled, all ribs wood-smoked. Fried chicken, too, has flown its KFC coup and gone posh: witness the hype over new restaurant Wishbone (not least later in this very magazine).
But with this fresh take on fast food also comes a commendable simplicity: do one thing, and do it really well. Take recent openings such as Tramshed, where your choice is limited to chicken or steak; Burger & Lobster, where you can have, er, burger or lobster; Chicken Shop, where – yup – it's chicken or chicken.
Which sounds great, except for one thing: what if you're a vegetarian? As someone who eschews flesh, I'm left out in the cold on this one (and not because of the queues). Not only can I not sample signature dishes, but these joints often don't serve anything else at all, unless you want to subsist on a side of slaw. Pah.
Thank heavens, then, that trends are fleeting things: maybe in 2013, it'll be all about broccoli…