1. Cuisine of the Year: Georgian cuisine will be 2019’s Cuisine of the Year, the report said, noting that Georgian dishes had been popping up on menus. Aptly, khachapuri — the cheese-filled Georgian staple is a bread boat topped with a runny egg — also took Dish of the Year honors. The report put it simply: “Bread ... runny eggs ... cheese ... what’s not to like?”
Laura Petrilla/Federal Galley
2. Food City of the Year: Pittsburgh gets the nod in 2019 for its booming tech scene. Af&co. says the city’s restaurants “are pushing the boundaries while keeping food approachable. With the city’s proximity to farms, it’s no surprise the local food scene is flourishing.”
3. Dessert of the Year: Artisanal doughnuts have been around for years thanks to pioneering shops such as Voodoo Doughnut in Oregon, Texas and California, and Sidecar Doughnuts and Donut Bar in Southern California. But restaurants and boutique shops are taking doughnuts to a new level with “unexpected savory flavors and fillings,” af&co. said, citing passion fruit glazed doughnut sprinkled with cocoa nibs at Blue Star shops in Oregon and California and the potato doughnut tikki at Indian-inspired ROOH in San Francisco.
5. Globally-inspired breakfast: Morning menus are being inspired by global cuisines. The team has spotted Israeli breakfast at Oren’s Hummus in San Francisco, Japanese morning grub served at Cassava in San Francisco and Okonomi in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Australian breakfast at Two Hands in New York.
6. Seed to table: Farm to table will go a step further next year, af&co. says as chefs work directly with farmers to grow vegetables that put flavor first. Leading the charge is Row 7 Seed Company launched by chef Dan Barber and his partners. “By working together in the field and kitchen, they test, taste and market delicious new plant varieties to make an impact in the soil and at the table,” the report said.
Tai K erbs/Oren’s Hummus
7. Hummus madness: Expect creative takes with the “reliable garbanzo” including hummus milkshakes, chickpea fries, snickerdoodle hummus, and green chickpea guacamole. One extreme example: Chickpea fries with chiles, anise, ginger and curry aïoli at E&O Kitchen & Bar in San Francisco.
8. Waste not, want not: Underscoring the “Do the Right Thing” theme, af&co. says the hospitality industry is increasingly passionate about reducing food waste and finding ways to increase their sustainable operations. Movements already in the works include straw bans in various cities and the “Waste Not” campaign launched in October by the James Beard Foundation. NRN recently spotted durum wheat pasta straws at Casa Barilla, a fast-casual restaurant in Costa Mesa, Calif. owned by Italian pasta giant Barilla. Paradise Cove Beach Cafe in Malibu, Calif. was among the first restaurants to test pasta straws made by a local company.
9. Clarified Cocktails: These “ultra-smooth” drinks are made using a culinary centrifuge, which removes cloudiness from a beverage while leaving all the flavor intact.
Little Fluffy Head Café
10. A bevy of new beverages: Expect to see more Georgian, Lambrusco, and South African wines. On the coffee front, watch out for hot nitro coffee and carbonated coffee. Other drink trends cited include: high-alcohol kombucha, exotic teas — such as moringa, mushroom and foam-topped “cheese tea”— aloe liqueur, sake cocktails and drinks with a blast of color such as black chardonnay and butterfly pea flower tea.
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11. Carbs at large: Carb is no longer a dirty word. “Pasta and bread are back, alongside an appreciation for heritage grains and artisanal bread preparation,” af&co. says.
Courtesy of Omakasa
12. Flex-casual: Segments are becoming blurrier with the onset of “flex casual” concepts. These restaurants are typically full service at night, counter service by day. Af&co. notes a few trailblazers such as Beckon Call (Denver), Marisol (Chicago), Canard (Portland, Oregon).
13. Playing with food: Though dining etiquette frowns upon playing with your food, af&co. says it’s becoming legit to play while dining. “From roaming magicians to actively promoting gaming at the dinner table, businesses are looking for more ways to bring guests in and keep them there for longer,” af&co. said. Curio in San Francisco, for example, features unexpected entertainment on Friday nights such as magicians and fortune tellers.
Courtesy of Pere Gifre
14. Plateware and glassware with intrigue: To visually amuse guests at the table, af&co. has spotted restaurants serving cocktails in lightbulbs and milk cartons, breakfast served on a shovel, and appetizers served on a bed of rocks. ROKC in New York City, for example, serves their “Flower” cocktail in a lightbulb. The Michelin-star-rated EL Ideas in Chicago serves a coconut and lime powder palate cleanser on a mirror accompanied with a razor blade, af&co. notes.
Flour & Water
15. Music to your ears: Cultural connections are important marketing plays in the industry. Af&co. noted it is starting to see more restaurants and hotels using music to bolster their brands. Specifically, expect restaurant to showcase their playlists on millennial-friendly Spotify. Af&co. said the strategy allows guests to get a taste” of the brand whenever they please. Restaurants that have Spotify playlists include Momofuku, Meatball Shop, and Chubby Noodle.