Ketchup or mustard? Actually, it’s mayo that Americans love the most, according to market-research firm Euromonitor, which reported U.S. consumers spent $2 billion on the olive oil-egg concoction last year. But chefs this winter seem more enthralled with the spicier yellow sauce, judging by the unique spins on mustard we’ve seen on menus across the country.
From Michelin-starred chefs like chef Matthew Accarrino to burger bars like Plan Check Kitchen in Los Angeles, the all-American condiment is making a comeback. At SPQR in San Francisco, Accarrino incorporates mustard into his Degustazione di Maialino with cranberry bean, lady apple, turnip and a grain mustard sauce. At Plan Check, chef Ernesto Uchimura puts a Korean spin on a Jewish classic with his Pastrami Nosh, made with double smoked pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, kimchi mustard, pickles and a sunny fried egg.
Although mustard has fallen in supermarket sales, down to $450 million last year, according to Euromonitor, the versatility of the classic condiment has made it a favorite at restaurants. It’s being infused with a wide range of ingredients and used on all kinds of dishes.
“Operators are taking off-the-shelf sauces like ketchup, mayo, ranch dressing and mustard, and adding their own twists in flavor,” says Benjamin Stanley, cofounder and v.p. of Food Genius, a tech firm that tracks menu data. “A little tweaking can go a long way to create differentiation among others who are often serving many of the same items.”
House-made condiments popped up on many trend prediction lists this year, including ours, and these inventive mustards bear that out. Here are some other examples we’ve seen recently:
• At Willie Jane in Venice Beach, CA, chef Govind Armstrong’s date mostarda accompanies the Sweet Tea Brined Pork Chop made with wilted greens from the restaurant’s neighboring garden.
• At Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen in nearby Santa Monica, executive chef Jeremy Fox offers an ever-changing farmers market-inspired menu with dishes like Windrose Farms Autumn lettuces with mustard-Banyuls vinaigrette, radishes and herbs, as well as Beets with ‘Reed’ Avocado, served with Rancho Gordo quinoa, Seckel pear mustard and pistachio.
• At Mercat a la planxa in Chicago, Iron Chef Jose Garces serves La Peral, a Spanish cow’s milk blue cheese, with apple cider-apricot mustard.
• In Somerville, MA, Tony Maws serves a trio of mustards with many of his reimagined comfort foods at the new Kirkland Tap & Trotter.
• And our favorite sounding variety, Shin Thompson’s “death mustard,” will only be available for a few more days until Kabocha, his Japanese brasserie in Chicago, closes this weekend. Named for its potency, it’s made from a Japanese mustard powder, rice-wine vinegar and a touch of honey, and used on his braised short rib with mochi spaetzle and parsnip.