Thinking of opening a London restaurant? Want it to be cool and trendy? Here's my handy step-by-step guide.
Theme bar, tastefully designed. The idea is austerity, nostalgia, a brief moment of stylish comfort in these recession-hit times. Keep prices high though to discourage riff-raff/ people that don't 'get-it'. No reservations - goes without saying, you need as many people visibly queuing as possible.
Ex-pub in Hackney (don't worry, the scary locals will go away soon). Move to Soho when you can afford it.
Utilitarian, use rectangular white kitchen wall tiles as much as possible, exposed concrete, ceilings should be pressed tin, adorn walls with taxidermy, ironic hunting prizes (because of course we would never really go hunting), furniture should be pre-war mismatched, preferably reclaimed from an old school or public building. Graffiti (the nice middle-class 'street art' kind, not the other nasty taggy subway kind) on the walls must suggest the wacky, rock n roll crazy personalities of the owners. Lots of angle-poise desk lamps. Absolutely no tablecloths.
Should be as much as possible unsuited to that particular beverage. Wine should be served in thick glass tumblers (Duralex, prefrably). Or even better, recycled mustard jars. Pickling jars, jam jars, ashtrays, all good. Oh, and water (to be garnished with a sliver of cucumber) must be served from a quirky source - milk bottle, water trough, flagon etc
Anything funky, irreverent and cool, with the one golden rule: No white ceramic! Enamel camping tins and baking tins are of course, essential, resting artfully (always artfully) on the brown paper placemat which is also the menu for the day (a nod to McDonald's, I see what you did there), which is great when instagrammed from above because you don't even have to namecheck.
Staff should ideally have a selection of tattoos (again, middle-class but not chavvy ones) and alternative dress sense. Beards for guys, forties throwback for girls. Converse hi-tops are compulsory. They must have a laid-back but slight problem with authority, man, so you can just sort of let them do what they want as long as they refer to themselves as mixologists a couple of times. Guyliner a good idea but not compulsory. Extra points for arriving on a stickered fixed wheel bicycle. Owners should be in tight-fitting retro t-shirts to accentuate their 45 yr old paunches. Easy on the cheap European labour, best stick to friends of friends, even if they don't really know what they're doing.
Menus should be on torn-out lined notepaper, or brown packaging paper, in a typewriter or stencil font. There should be no punctuation and definitely no currency signs, and there will be a maximum of ten items on the menu. Equally acceptable is a photocopied handwritten menu, the more sketchy the handwriting, the better.
No-nos: Anything in a leatherette folder (although I've heard these are to be making an ironic comeback in parts of Dalston) Copperplate font, Conqueror or similar paper, centred text.
Anything that you would have eaten when you were a kid. It's even better if you can abbreviate it. The more simple, the better. No 'courses' (how restraining), everything to be shared, like a London Fields picnic.
Start a twitter account, and make friends with every food blogger you can find. Give all of them free food for a month, and do exactly what they say. Love them, they are your Gods.