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Restaurant Trends We Ought To Love and Hate

Leather Menu CoverTrends, they say, is the result of a collective feeling, and cannot, in any way, be dictated by industry leaders – although others do say that it could well be manipulated by promotion and advertisement.  So when those health foods (grain food, brown rice, seed snacks) and those savory, sophisticated flavorings (umami paste, harisa, tikka misala, nutmeg) came out, can we safely say that people loved it first before it was announced by food experts as an “official trend,” or was it because media promoted it?  Did the buy local phenomena and the cupcake fad happen first before it was declared as “trends,” or did people eventually loved the idea because it was first declared as a fad?

The thing about restaurant craze is that it varies with time.  There are some trends that are best enjoyed over a good period of time and that are difficult to shake off, while there are others that take a little getting used to.  Food critic Jay D. Ducote has his own take on these various trends and feels that there are those that need to go.  His opinion was featured in The Street.com’s article Restaurant Trends We Love and Hate, along with some ideas of Washington chef and cooking instructor Danielle Turner.

Among those they love are local sourcing, the use of better lettuce in our salads these days, the food and beer pairings in restaurant menus and menu holders, and those pop-up dining places that talented chefs come up.  And there are trends they hate, too.

An example of a trend they do not like is the marketing language that appears on restaurant menus and menu holders just to entice people to order the food items.  Cooking steak to perfection is one example.  Is there such a thing as perfectly seared steak?  Such terminology makes one feel foolishly deceived.  Instead of feeling enticed, you get the notion that you are being tricked for your apparent lack of knowledge.  Ducote, for one, would prefer a simple yet enticing description about how his food is actually cooked and served.  That way, it leaves more to the imagination and keeps customers like him eager to try out what’s on the menu.

And why are communal tables gaining popularity these days?  A number of restaurants are saying that when you share a seat, you also win a friend.  It seems that this does not sit well with many.  Many prefer having their own quiet table to themselves than common seating arrangements shared with people they do not know.  A lot still feel that dining should be an intimate experience where you are not compelled to initiate (or participate) in conversations with strangers.

Another trend that should slowly fade out is cupcake.  Cupcake specialty shops had been all over the country that it has started to grate on most customers.  This pastry is still well loved, but the over-exposure has become maddening for most people – Food Network came up with Cupcake Wars, Katy Perry wearing underwear made of cupcakes, (and again) Katy Perry wearing a dress with levels and levels of cupcakes is truly extreme and proves that cupcakes had been totally over-exploited. It’s high time to allow it to rest.

But who makes the call?  Should the fad just naturally fade out, or should industry leaders officially declare their exit?