What is in this article?:
- 5 restaurant trends to watch this spring
- Certification and Pine
Mediterranean flavors, young garlic and new types of certification are among trends to look out for this spring at independents and chains.
Spring is coming, and that means cooking with English peas and fava beans, morels and ramps, fiddleheads and rhubarb, just as it does every year. But seasonal produce isn't the only factor inspiring restaurant offerings over the next few months.
Here's a look at five trends — including flavors, cuisines and processes — that you can expect to see more of this spring.
Mediterranean goes mainstream
The cuisines of Spain, southern France, Italy, Greece, New England Journal of Medicine documenting what people have been claiming for years: that the region’s diet is good for the heart. Combine that with the now widespread acceptance of hummus and Greek yogurt, and you have a trend with real legs.and North Africa have been growing steadily in popularity for the past decade, but they were given a meaningful shot in the arm recently. A study by the
You’ll see Mediterranean touches this spring at places such as DGS Delicatessen in Washington, D.C., whereBarry Koslow will be adding black sesame yogurt to spring pea soup with smoked salmon tartare. And at T. Cook’s at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, chef Todd Sicolo has introduced a springtime salad of shaved asparagus and preserved lemon — a common North African ingredient — with morels, Reggiano cheese and tomatoes.
Chains are bringing Mediterranean influences to their food, too. For example, 147-unit Corner Bakery Café, based in Dallas, is adding a lemonorzo soup to its menu this spring.
Restaurants will also be serving plenty of straight-up Mediterranean dishes, such as the Eastern Mediterranean parsley-and-bulgur salad Tabbouleh on the menu at True Food Kitchen, Sam Fox’s six-unit chain based in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Even decidedly non-Mediterranean concepts are getting in on the action: 31-unit BD’s Mongolian Grill is adding such items as tomato Parmesan soup, made with diced tomatoes mixed with garlic, herbs and Parmesan cheese — a Mediterranean mix if ever there was one.
Young garlic becomes the new ramp
Many chefs who were asked about what they were looking forward to this spring pointed to the usual seasonal favorites such as ramps and morels, but even more expressed enthusiasm about spring garlic.
Whether they meant the green shoots that are suitable for stir-frying or the young bulbs that are sweeter and lighter but more aromatic than garlic during the rest of the year, chefs seem particularly excited about this particular spring specialty.
John des Rosiers, the chef of Inovasi in Chicago, said he’s positively sick of springtime ramps, the leek-like vegetables that sprout during this time of year. “I like ramps, but enough is enough. We’ve got to start doing something else,” he said.
For him that something is young garlic. He’s thinking of poaching the greens, “to take some of the harshness out,” and then making a pesto out of them, perhaps to be served with savory chanterelle custard.
He’s also planning on charring the young bulbs on a grill, chopping them and making a salsa out of them with lime juice and olive oil. “It’s really great with different types of seafood,” he said.
Beverage flights take off
A standard at many independent and fine-dining restaurants, beverage flights, or small tastes of a variety of drinks, are now gracing the menus of more chain restaurants – and are including more than just wine.
Restaurateurs say beverage flights can add an educational component to a meal and enhance the dining experience, as well as provide a boost to checks.
One of the latest chains to add drink flights to its menu is 223-unit California Pizza Kitchen. CPK has added three wine flights, each of three 3-ounce pours for $12.
The 66-unit Smokey Bones chain has taken a different approach. Eager to let guests try more craft beers even before it adds more taps to its restaurants, the chain is offering a bucket of four craft bottles for $13.
This winter we saw a surge in after-dinner drink flights, and we can expect to see more of them this spring.