There’s no denying an overarching trend of food in American restaurants to be more adventuresome and experimental, but there’s a lot to be said for traditional fare, as the latest class of Trending Tables illustrates.
Yes, George Chen is putting his erudition on display with next-level Chinese fine dining at Eight Tables in San Francisco, but in general the most popular restaurants at the moment are taking a more mainstream approach — making quite familiar dishes and just personalizing them a bit.
At The Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, S.C., for example, Low Country shrimp and grits are given added depth with cheddar cheese and fennel. The Pizza at Iron Born in Pittsburgh is upgraded with ingredients such as 24-month Parmigiano.
In San Diego, at Pop Pie, traditional potpies get a local update with the addition of ingredients such as tomatillo salsa and roasted chiles. And at Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in Las Vegas, chicken wings are dressed in gochujang, but they’re still wings.
Meanwhile, Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co. in Charleston is serving straight-up chili dogs and Reuben sandwiches, but also mixing it up a bit with things like its pork and peanut stew.
It’s a reminder that doing things simply, but well, can be a great approach.