Sunday Crunch: The Changing Face Of British Food Traditions

New Quarterly Dining Trends Report from  Bookatable by Michelin reveals diners are turning their back on classic British dining traditions such as the Sunday Roast in favour of more contemporary options

  • Only one in five diners enjoy a roast every Sunday compared to 44 percent of diners 10 years ago
  • The number of people opting for fish on Friday has decreased with only one in 10 upholding the weekly tradition
  • Over half of British diners (52 percent) never opt for a full English breakfast on Saturday, choosing instead to go for Saturday brunch

New insight from Bookatable’s Quarterly Dining Trends Report has revealed that diners are no longer indulging in British traditions such as the Sunday Roast and Full English Breakfast in favour of more contemporary options and a range of new dishes.

While ten years ago, the week was not complete without a hearty roast, today, diners are turning their backs on this traditional past time, with only one in five rounding off the week with a Sunday Roast compared to 44 percent ten years ago. Furthermore, it would seem that the classic roast has been usurped in favour of more diverse flavours. Bookatable’s data revealed that Sunday bookings for non-European cuisines has increased significantly with Sunday bookings at Chinese restaurants in 2016 rising by 71% and bookings for Thai restaurants increasing by 61% since 2015.

When quizzed on the decline of the traditional Sunday Roast, 30 percent of those surveyed, said that the old time classic had become more expensive. Indeed, while in 1997, 64% of people spent between £0 and £10 on a roast with all the trimmings, today only half of these Brits spend the same amount. Similarly, in 2017 nearly one in five will spend between £16 and £20 on the traditional British meal.

Brit’s top 5 most traditionally British meals have been voted as:
Fish & Chips 61%
Sunday Roast 56%
Full English Fry Up Breakfast 32%
Strawberries and Cream 27%
High Tea 22%

The research also shows that almost one in five consumers feel that the Sunday roast has become more sophisticated and ‘trendy’, over time.

Josephine Ellis, Head of Communications for Bookatable Europe comments: “Although the number of people eating a traditional roast every Sunday has reduced, this is not to say that roasts are a dying British tradition. Previously being the pinnacle of every Sunday, roasts are no longer confined to one day, with diners opting for the meal on alternative days of the week. While in the past, the roast was simple in its creation and the staple of every Sunday, today, chefs are continuously innovating and re-inventing the meal in order to keep up with the growing gourmet trend. This includes anything from using interesting herbs in the stuffing, to elaborate presentations and experimenting with premium cuts of meat.”

It is not only the Sunday Roast that has fallen out of favour. The tradition for fish on Friday has also seen a reduction in popularity. Ten years ago, nearly a quarter of diners (23%) ate fish on Friday, while in 2017, only one in ten continue to uphold the tradition.

While the traditions of the Sunday roast and fish on Friday are no longer regimented around certain days of the week, Bookatable data shows that British cuisine remains a popular choice amongst diners, with British bookings being the second most popular choice of cuisine on any day of the week.

Furthermore, while there is an impression of Britain as a ‘greasy spoon’, surprisingly over half of those surveyed would never opt for the classic Full English Fry up on a Saturday. Instead, Bookatable data revealed that since 2013, there has been an increase of Saturday brunch bookings by over 102% with Brits replacing the traditional fry up with poached eggs and avocado.

When looking at what people consider the most ‘traditionally’ British meals, fish & chips was deemed the top British treat (61%), followed by the Sunday Roast (56%) and Full English Fry up Breakfast (32%).

Josephine Ellis, Head of Communications for Bookatable Europe comments: ‘Over the past ten years, Britain has cemented itself as one of the food capitals of the world. While in the past, meals were often regimented around British ingredients, today, people are looking to be more adventurous with their food as they get out more and discover the range of food options on their doorstep. This is not to say that British cuisine is no longer a popular choice, just that people are looking to enjoy everything that the UK food scene has to offer. With this in mind, it is not a surprise that British traditions are changing.’