Just like fashion, the food industry is fickle with its ever-changing trends. To keep you up to date on what’s hot – from Chang to chooks – read on…
1. HIDE AND EAT
The more exclusive and secretive the restaurant or bar, the better. It’s all about drinking and dining venues located inside existing venues.
In New York there’s ‘Please Don’t Tell’- a small speakeasy bar that guests can only enter by calling the venue from inside a phone booth, located in a hot dog joint adjacent to the bar. Here, punters’ fate is decided whether they’ll be lucky enough to enter this secret space.
Hidden behind a velvet curtain inside a clothing shop in London’s Shoreditch is ‘Back in 5 Minutes’. Run by the Disappearing Dining Club, stumbling upon this venue would be the ultimate clothes encounter.
Another London hidden gem is the ‘La Bodega Negra’ in Soho, where the crude has turned to food. Found inside the cellar of a sex shop, guests mention to the shop assistant that they have a ‘reservation’, and are then directed to the hipster bar serving Mexican fare.
Sydney’s jumped on the secret society bangwagon with ‘The Soda Factory’ in Surry Hills. Here, entry is through a door disguised as a Coca-Cola machine located within Bobby’s Boss Dogs’ – a hot dog spot- where visitors will find an industrial- style bar spruiking fun cocktails, dude food, and funky tunes.
2. GETTING CLUCKY
Move over steakhouses, burgers and hotdogs- chicken is what everyone is clucking about at the moment. Previously just an item on the menu, now it’s the key ingredient of eating establishments- largely due to better raised, and tasting, chooks available.
Around the US, restaurants are spruiking Filipino-style chicken, fried-chicken sandwiches, charcoal-grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken, chicken hot dogs and chicken wings with unusual sauces like Orange Miso and Angry Korean.
3. MEAL MULTITASKING
Eateries are no longer just places to consume edible items. Now, they are venues where diners can consume knowledge and engage in various non-gastronomic related activities.Check out ‘La Pizzateca’ in Madrid – a pizza place that offers books to read along with your pizza.
Cafes inside bicycle shops have pedalled in as the trend du jour, with venues across the globe popping up faster than Tour de France contestants. In London there’s ‘Look Mum No Hands!’ and Sydney has several such as ‘Atelier de Velo’; alongside other around the world such as in Melbourne, the US and Bangkok.
4. THE ONLY WAY IS UP
While recycling and sustainability has been on everyone’s lips, the latest ‘green’ trend is ‘upcycling’. This is where one restaurant’s leftovers are used as part of a menu at a fellow restaurant- both establishments usually run by the same owner.
Once again, it’s the US that has the head’s up on this movement. In Manhattan there’s Mexican restaurant ‘Empellón Cocina’ that serves large masa crisps as a snack, which are broken into bits and used for salads at sister eatery ‘Empellón Taqueria’.
Across the country in Los Angeles there’s Hatfield’s, which uses leftover pastrami-style short ribs for upscale sandwiches at ‘The Sycamore Kitchen’.
Also, over in Pittsburgh, sausages from ‘Station Street Hot Dogs’ are added to the baked beans mix at ‘Union Pig & Chicken’.
5. IT’S THE SMALL THINGS
Previously, the concept of pub menus featuring dainty tapas and share plates was as unlikely as pigs flying. But times are a-changing, with ‘Gastropub 2.0’ in full-force, where this restaurant trend has transferred to gastropubs.
Examples include Asian gastropub ‘Blue Dragon’ in Boston serving mini Asian-style sloppy joes for $1 each, while pioneer of molecular gastronomy in the US, Wylie Dufresne is opening a gastropub in Manhattan that will offer cocktail-friendly fare.
6. LEAVING A SAVOURY TASTE
The gap between the kitchen and bar is narrowing as chefs enter beverage territory. Chefs are transferring their culinary skills such as smoking, pickling and molecular gastronomy from plate to glass, to create savoury ingredients added to cocktails.
New York bars are lapping up the trend, including ‘Clover Club’, where cocktails incorporate ingredients such as pickle brine and smoked-pepper bourbon. Over at David Chang’s ‘Booker and Dax’, another hot spot found inside his ‘Momofuku Ssam Bar’, horseradish-infused essential oil is added to its Bloody Mary and Thai basil to its Bangkok Daiquiri.
7. SPICE UP YOUR KNIFE
While South American cuisine has been spicing up the dining scene over the past while, Peruvian food in particular is blazing in this year. Peruvian dining destinations are popping up like hot cakes worldwide, with menus sprinkled with traditional staples including chilli, potatoes, beans, corn, rice and meats.
Bread has gone from a basic human staple to an entree, and has recently reached an even higher status. Bread can now be found on menus as its own course. For instance, at New York’s ‘Atera’, sourdough is fried in pork fat and served with house-made butter. Also, at Houston’s ‘Oxheart’, whole brioche loaves bless its tables, and Oslo’s ‘Maaemo’ matches bread with wheat beer as an official course on the menu.
9. WHISKED AWAY
Thinking about whisky usually conjures up images of old men in armchairs nursing a glass of the spirit. But this perception has been given a facelift, with whisky gaining significant popularity recently- surprisingly amongst women and the younger market.
Why? There’s been new whisky-producing countries entering the industry such as India, as well as new micro-distilleries popping up- the first whisky distillery in a century has just opened in London.
And to cap it off, there’s been a stream of bar openings that specialise in whisky, including venues in Singapore, Korea, United Kingdom, Brisbane and Sydney’s own ‘The Baxter Inn’.
10. SANDWICHED IN
The humble sandwich used to consist of two slices of plain white bread, some form of protein and a few lettuce leaves (if you were lucky).
Now, sandwiches are a trend in their own right. The food world is going ga-ga over miniature-style sandwiches, sliders and fillings of specialty sauces and meats. Vietnamese bahn mi sandwiches are also in vogue, along with the ‘Cemita’- a Mexican sandwich stuffed with meat, cheese and salsa on brioche-style bread.
Not to mention crazy combos, like at Los Angeles’ ‘Ink.Sack’. This sandwich mecca even offers up sangas topped with Fritos (American corn chips) – talk about an unexpected crunch.
Posted by Jenna Chaitowitz