Here’s an existential crisis for you: who do you think you are? Do you know? If not, don’t worry — help is at hand. As 18th-century epicure Brillat-Savarin didn’t quite say: “Tell me what restaurant merch you wear, I’ll tell you who you are.”
London’s hippest restaurants, wine bars and coffee shops are now touting gourmet-branded T-shirts, sweatshirts, tote bags, baby rompers — and we all want some.
In an age of Instagram promiscuity and chasing the latest hot new opening, restaurant merch shows loyalty to your chosen cheese toastie or flat-white purveyor. You have indeed been there, got the T-shirt and want the world to know it.
So what does your bao-branded bag or pig-emblazoned sweatshirt say about you?
The Wine ’n’ Rind Beaujolais Berghaus tee
Who: Nu-wave florists and new Tottenham new mums with achingly cool undercuts and tattoos in unexpected places. Just effortlessly cooler than most other people, tbh.
Most likely to say: “I’m just on my way to a scrunchie-making class” (This may well actually be a euphemism for some wildly hip legal high.)
Orders: Hot, buttered crumpet with negroni jam and Old Winchester, two pints of Beaujolais from the tap.
The Noble Rot “Sex, Drugs and Pinot Noir” tote
Who: Former Dalston club kids, video installation artists and CSM students — now high-powered media execs and magazine founders with three-bedroom houses in Crystal Palace.
Most likely to say: “I once snogged Liam Gallagher.” Also: “Love the new generation but they don’t get it like we did.”
Orders: One bottle of funky natural, one of three-figure premier cru, six grotty pints at the pub to relive the old days.
The St John sweatshirt and piglet rompers
Who: Thirtysomething Islington food junkies whose baby has already been to more Michelin-star restaurants in its blackout Bugaboo than you ever will.
Most likely to say: “It’s great, Zadie’s already taken to offal. You just have to start them young, you know? We had her sucking on a pig’s ear at six weeks as part of her sleep training and it’s just really worked, you know?” Also: “Shall we get another bottle?”
Orders: Bone marrow and parsley salad, anything with trotter, too much claret.
The “Bao man” tote bag
Who: Twentysomething Clerkenwell travel bloggers, PRs and YouTubers. Been to every new opening before most people have heard of it. Queues for the ’gram, stands on chairs for the ’gram.
Most likely to say: “Did you see the taco place I was talking about? Their jackfruit is beyond lush. Wrote about it on the blog.” Also: “Yassss kween.”
Orders: That Taiwanese fried chicken, black cod bao and other dishes they don’t really want but look good on Insta.
The Lyle’s tote bag
Who: London-Fields-dwelling stay-at-home dads, app designers, and general good eggs. Will whip up a sourdough as easily as build a fire and barbecue a shoulder of lamb while glamping in Suffolk.
Most likely to say: “Will you test this rhubarb frangipane for me while I and put up the shelves?” Also: “Is this asparagus from Mexico or Italy?”
Orders: Hogget and garlic crumpet, white asparagus, vin jaune and almond, and a loaf of sourdough to take home for crumb-shot comparison.
The Daily Goods black tee
Who: Fila-trainer-wearing south London lifer graphic designers and photographers. Rides a fixie and/or skateboard, owns more than one artfully faded baseball cap and a pair of too-short jeans. Vocal coffeephilia means their parents bought them a Nespresso machine for Christmas. Awkward.
Most likely to say: “I nearly went to join Extinction Rebellion but I think Emma Thompson undermined their credibility a bit.” Also: “Mum, please stop buying me Costa vouchers.”
Orders: Daily filter on the way to work (milk destroys the taste), oat flattie and almond croissant for soul-crunching Saturday hangovers.