In all the lists about what will be big this year, restaurant trends appear on every one. What ingredients are chefs using now? What will influence their cooking? Are portion sizes increasing or decreasing? Chefs are always creating and combining, and while I can’t give you exact recipes from specific restaurants, there are a few things that are expected to pick up popularity this year.
- Smaller, healthier portions: As I said in my last post, a big trend this year is eating healthy, what with things like gluten-free and reduced fat recipes continuing to grow. This trend continues in restaurants, with chefs offering up smaller portions (read: suitable for one) and healthier dishes (using high fiber grains, veggie broths and the like). Many restaurants will also offer selections of mini desserts.
- Bread: Artisan rolls, elaborate baskets, its own course? Believe it or not, bread is no longer just the free offering from the restaurant while you wait for your meal. Many restaurants are revamping bread, adding different ingredients, spreads, and finding new ways to make it. Artisanal bread is big on the home cooking scene – expect some of that when you go out too.
- Vegetables: as main courses. Veggies are taking center stage this year, and the vegetable to watch is cauliflower, which, I should note, can be used in so many different desserts from cookies to cheese cakes.
- All-inclusive menus: There is currently a ‘no diner left behind’ attitude with restaurants that are trying to accommodate every kind of diner – from those with allergies to the eco-conscious diner to kids. Kids’ menus are also expected to get an upgrade with staples like hotdogs and mac and cheese replaced with more flavorful entrees typical of adult menus.
- Re-imagined desserts: I have seen a variety of predictions about desserts that I think fit into this category. There is everything from cocktail-infused desserts and deconstruction of cakes to adding new twists to classic desserts – like using buckwheat honey and melting frozen scoops sweetened milk in an ice-cream sundae (this last one comes courtesy of The NoMad, a New York City restaurant.
Up for special mention are popcorn, which will also be big on dessert menus; chicken, which continues to gain in popularity; ramen, but versions more delicious than your average pack; gochujang, a Korean hot sauce which is delicious; and processes like smoking meat, and pickling and fermenting vegetables.