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Restaurant Food and Drink Trends For 2012

Time flies real fast, doesn’t it? We’re now almost at the end of 2011, and as always, it’s during these time of the year that industry gurus start predicting restaurant trends for the coming year.

Andrew Freeman, principal of consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co., once again led the way in making a trend-spotting report for 2012, with everyone on the look-out if these predictions will garner the same worldwide coverage as it had in the previous years.

So, what does he have for us in 2012? In his website’s The Trend Report-The Passion Collection 2012, Freeman mentioned ongoing trends that have gained steam in the recent years: the public’s continuing interest in healthful indulgences, grilled cheese and customized French Fries. Breakfast will also be continuously reinvented, with our favorite breakfast items being offered in lunch, dinner and late night menus in quality café menu covers. Menu personalization will be an enduring trend; too, as guests become increasingly curious on the stories behind the dishes they eat.

Among Freeman’s new forecasts is the rising trend of ethnic dishes (the diverse millennialslove for ethnic menu choices and the balance between authenticity and innovation, remember?), this time highlighting on Indian, Thai and Eastern European concepts.

“I think Indian food is really out to go mainstream” said Freeman. This happens as quick-service restaurants, pop-ups and food trucks satisfy the market’s palate with Indian street food. Many restaurants in San Francisco also offer India’s favorite ghost peppers, known to be one of the hottest chili in town.

Thai food is also getting more popular than ever, as many dining places now feature Thai regional menu items. Thai issan sausages continuously pop up on menus in elegant café menu covers, and skilled Thai chefs are hot into revitalizing Thai street food, concocting unfamiliar vibrant flavors. Freeman also gave emphasis on the emerging popularity of Eastern European dishes, as many Russian, German, Polish, Hungarian, Jewish and Austrian delis are coming out.

His other observations and predictions on next year’s food innovations are:

Wild ice creams, as restaurants continue to experiment on ingredients for this favorite dessert—crazy yet savory flavors like vegetable, spices, lobster and bacon.

Veggies as desserts, such as goat cheese with celery. Fresh produce will now have innovative sweet and savory flavors that make it ideal for dessert.

Hand-pulled noodles—the latest creative way to entertain the guests and stimulate their appetite.

Snow Ice, a cross between ice cream and shaved ice which originated from Asia, is gaining wide popularity after it was introduced in Chicago last year.

• New infused flavors in sauces, meats, rubs and broths: fir, pine and eucalyptus, as chefs all over the country are starting to love them.

On drinks:

Cocktails and drink infusions now being offered on tap, inspired by the far-reaching fame of wine on tap in recent years.

Vintage beers, as customers are encouraged to add value and intrigue to their thirsty throats, trying things that are not so new.

Fruit infused beers, creating fun and refreshing beverage, as restaurant and bar operators attempt to expand its audience to non-beer drinkers.

• Food trucks will soon extend to cocktails, seeing that “cocktail trucks” are popping up, highlighting spirit brands.

Mini-cocktails served to create a sense of generous hospitality, an incentive to encourage guests to taste a restaurant’s different beverages

On ingredients:

Stroop, that dark, Dutch treacle syrup that is used for desserts

Schnitz, a staple in the cuisine of the Pennsylvania Dutch, the word roughly translating to “apple slices and dumplings,” as restaurants offer Schnitzle sandwiches

Yuzukosho, a paste created from chili peppers, used as condiment for many Japanese dishes

Home-made flavored marshmallows

Bones! Rib bones, marrow bones, bone soup, ham bone

• Duck and duck eggs, goose and goose eggs

Currywurst, a dish of German origin which typically includes hot pork wurst (sausage) and curry ketchup

Lamb belly, crispy chicken skin, pork skin, fish skin, Parisian gnocchi (or soft dumplings)

As the year 2011 closes, we shall start to keep an eye on this collection of forecasts—check, after a year, what came true and what did not. Freeman’s hits from past collections include pie as the new cupcake; shrink wrapped eats and wine on tap, among many others.