Review of 'Taste of London 2021'

https://london.tastefestivals.com/

The “Taste of London” festival in Regents park has become a fixture of the London restaurant scene over the years though, of course, with the pandemic last year's festival had to be cancelled. This year the event has been spread out over the course of two weeks (instead of the normal one), taking place between Wednesday and Sunday of each week, with one session during weekdays and two on the weekends. Some of the restaurants only appear during one particular week or even day, so be sure to check the schedule if you want to visit one in particular. Due to COVID restrictions there are far fewer people allowed on site than in previous years and the stalls are spaced out a lot more but, even so, there seemed to be far fewer restaurants and exhibitors.

On the COVID front, the festival suggested wearing of masks when queuing and keeping your distance at all times though this seemed to very often be ignored which meant it was a bit uncomfortable at times.

Grounds

This year's festival works pretty much as it always has: The restaurants are found clustered in three's throughout the site where you can see what dishes they are offering, typically three different plates at about £5-£6 each plus one or more “exclusive” taste dish that costs more. Arriving early in our Wednesday session we were able to get the dishes we wanted without queuing but as the evening went on the queues grew considerably though mostly around the burger, steak or seafood stalls (the biggest queue was probably for the BBQ lobster from Burger & Lobster). We were more interested in the slightly more exotic dishes or those restaurants we have never visited so we tried:

  • Sticky Mango - “Tempura Soft Shell Crab Steam Bun” (£6) and “Malaysian Chicken Curry Puffs” (£5), both of which were delicious though we both agreed the later was much tastier with a delicious herb-y sauce.

Sticky Mango - Tempura Soft Shell Crab Steam Bun

Sticky Mango - Malaysian Chicken Curry Puffs

  • EggRun - “Eggrun” (£6) and “Savage Fries” (£3). My companion did not like the “EggRun” scrambled egg burger as it was a bit too soft and runny for her but I found it quite delicious with an amazing sauce. The savage fries were made with sweet potato and absolutely delicious with, again, great sauce.

Eggrun - Eggrun with Savage Fries

  • Dinner Ladies (raising money for The Felix Project) - “Elote Corn Riblets” (£6; “Corn riblets with smoked paprika & chilli mayo, parmesan, feta and lime”) and “Felix's Kitchen Lockdown Massaman Vegetable Curry” (£6; “Sweet potato, butternut, aubergine & green bean Massaman curry with coconut rice”). The riblets were “The Most Instagrammed” dish from the show but they also tasted spectacular with a delicious sauce accompanying the very tender corn “riblets” (slices of corn on the cob that you eat much like you would a rib). The curry, unfortunately, was a bit of a disappointment with not a huge amount of flavour.

Dinner Ladies - Elote Corn Riblets

Dinner Ladies - Felix's Kitchen Lockdown Massaman Vegetable Curry

  • Napoli Gang - “Arancini al Tartufo” (£5) and “Lemon Pie XXL” (£6). I loved the two small arancini (risotto balls) that were packed with truffles but my companion found them a bit TOO mushroom-y for her. Being small and without any accompanying sauce they were a bit dry. The lemon pie was good but had, of course, far too much meringue though the tart case and filling at the bottom were absolutely delicious - Just the right amount of tang balanced with sweetness.

Napoli Gang - Arancini al Tartufo

Napoli Gang - Lemon Pie XXL

To be honest, there was really not a lot of choice which was a huge disappointment. Every year there also appears to be more and more alcohol stalls and this year there were more of these than restaurants offering samples of wines, spirits and beers (none of which I drink and my companion drinks very little). It was nice to see there were at least two stalls that specialized in non-alcoholic, though adult, drinks, most notably Everleaf who specialize in non-alcoholic aperitifs and offered lots of free samples (though expensive, very tasty).

Grounds

There were a number of events going on throughout our visit but nothing really caught our eye though the smoke coming from “The Firepit” certainly attracted a large crowd which was also a corporate hospitality area so you could not get in without a special ticket. A common theme, many of the tastings and special experiences were extra on top of the standard festival £23 entrance fee (£37 including 2 signature dishes or £59 for “Diners Club VIP 2 Dish Bundle” that includes priority access, champagne, masterclass access, lounge access, and “garden games”).

Generally, we were disappointed by the festival this year with it's emphasis seeming to be away from the food and more on drink; the reduced number of restaurants that did not include any of the “big names” such as Roux, Ramsey, Waering, Stein, Blumenthal, or Kochar; and generally not really a lot to see and do over our 4 1/2 hour time slot after you have had your food and drink. I can see that much of this is down to COVID restrictions but why are none of the biggest names on the London restaurant scene here? Weird. The food itself was OK but nothing really blew us away as it has in previous years.

Rating: “It is OK but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2021-07-14



Regents Park

Location: London (England)

Address: Chester Rd, London NW1 4NR ENGLAND

Public Transport: TUBE Regent's Park

URL: https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park

One of the great parks of London. Home to the London Zoo, the Open Air Theatre and numerous summer events including the Frieze Sculpture exhibition.