An insect restaurant you say. Haven’t we been here before?
Insects as a viable protein alternative to meat has been the Next Big Thing for as far back as we can remember, but unlike some of the critters that have been on past menus it has never taken flight. Back in 2015 we wrote about the opening of the UK’s first restaurant serving insects but in the intervening eight years you can probably count the number of places that have followed in its wake on the legs of a spider.
What’s different here?
Unlike some of the other restaurants that have come before and which have created menus using all manner of bugs and worms, this one has a laser focus on crickets, those chirpy orthopteran insects that are related to the grasshopper.
Isn’t there a restaurant already called cricket?
You’re thinking of Kricket, the Indian restaurant mini-group that has three London restaurants. This one won’t be called Cricket though; it is being launched by Yum Bug (described as ‘the UK’s leading cricket-meat company’, of which there can’t be that many). The company says it is revolutionising the UK’s culinary scene by offering seasonal small plates all featuring one very special, sustainable superfood - crickets.
Seasonal small plates. That sounds more on trend
Very much so. Chefs including Sam Clark (pictured above), the chef-owner at Moro, Clem Haxby, culinary director at Salad Project, Tim Molema, the owner of The Dynamo (and Nando’s head of food), and James Nathan, a previous MasterChef winner have all designed bug-based recipes exclusively for the Yum Bug menu, which will be served up by chefs Sophie Godwin, Adam Bush, and Finn Tonry Brown.
What’s on the menu?
Diners can choose from dishes that include cricket mince topped hummus with seasonal crudites (pictured below), Calabrian chilli and tomato pappardelle with cricket pieces; cricket ragu with polenta and golden garlic; and spiced cricket mince flatbread with pomegranate and onion which, to be fair, do sound - and look - pretty tasty. Dishes will be accompanied by drinks from BrewDog, London Essence, and the fortunately named MOTH drinks, which is almost too perfect to be true.
When can I try them?
The restaurant will run at Old Street’s The Bower from 26 October to 11 November serving dinner Wednesday to Saturday. You can book a table here.
Perfect. Remind me, why are we eating crickets?
It’s all about sustainability. Yum Bug’s crickets are farmed in a vertical farm using a fraction of the land, water, and feed than traditional livestock, it says, with the critters producing 10 times less CO2 than beef. They are healthy, too, and are said to contain 30% more protein than beef.
And this time it will take off?
Absolutely not. It seems highly unlikely that entomophagy - the practice of eating insects - will become common practice on these shores any time soon. But one day maybe. Yum Bug says its products are due to launch in major restaurant chains in early 2024 so that’s at least a start. If it does become mainstream, I’ll eat my hat - which, admittedly, is probably less flavoursome and lower in protein.
211 Old St, London, EC1V 9NR