Restaurant Roundup: Five Top Trends On My Radar

 

Here’s what I’m keeping an eye on – starting with my biggest disappointment:

Poke: Still going strong but increasingly unsatisfactory.

  • In NYC, the two best continue to be Seamore’s and Wisefish Poke. Highly recommend both.
  • However, I’ve tried many others including Chikarashi and Sons of Thunder. All underwhelming, some simply bad.
  • Everywhere I’ve traveled this year, poke places are springing up: Atlanta, DC, Philadelphia.
  • In Dallas, there’s a lot of buzz around Pok the Raw Bar, which has a former Nobu chef at the helm. Fingers crossed they get the formula right.

What’s next on the raw fish front?

  • I’m putting my money on ceviche which is showing up on more menus. One of my favorites, at the moment, is the ceviche verde at ATLA, Enrique Olvera’s new casual spot.

Read on below for 4 more trends including the huge generational differences I’m picking up between millennials and those of us over 50 when it comes to our expectations for dining out.

Ramen and “bowl-food” restaurants: a huge hit with Millennials and Gen X – NOT so much with the over-50’s!

 

  • I like a tasty bowl of ramen or Japanese Udon but would rarely suggest it when meeting friends for dinner.
  • My generation wants to make a whole night of going out and we need 3 courses to carry us over an evening.
  • But this 3-course style of dining may be on its way out.
  • Beyond ramen, I expect to see more restaurants focusing on shareable dishes and on small and large size dishes vs. a menu comprised of appetizers, mains, and desserts.
  • Interesting to see this shift transform the restaurant experience. Some of it has to do with cost but much of it is related to the kind of experience younger diners are looking for on a night out. They want to spend less time sitting at a table over a meal. They prefer to move between multiple venues over the course of a night e.g. start at a cool bar, followed by a bite at a ramen or pizza place, then for dessert, it’s onto the latest and greatest spot for ice cream.

 

Nouveau Israeli Cuisine is Red Hot!!

 

  • Unfortunately, I did not get to Zahav when I was in Philadelphia recently (gets rave reviews).
  • But I am hitting up Nur this weekend.
  • And I will be checking out several new Israeli restaurants in LA when I am out there in September, including Kismet.

 

Special Event/Pop-Up Dining: 

 

  • Seeing more collaborations, guest-chef takeovers, one-off dinners, rooftop farm dinners.
  • I can’t get to all of these – in part because of time but also, cost. Special event dinners are pricey!
  • But they do offer memorable experiences e.g. Rene Redzepi’s Noma Tulum must have been amazing at $750 a person.
  • Also seeing this trend play out with pop-up bars.g. Scott Conant’s Sorso Cocktail Lab and Infusion Bar which will be open thru the summer at the Fontainebleau Hotel, Miami Beach.

 

Fine-Dining Chefs Bring Us Elevated Fast Casual e.g. Made Nice

 

  • Made Nice is the best example of this trend to elevated fast-casual.
  • It is brought to us by the fine-dining vets from Eleven Madison Park. And I was thrilled to see chef Daniel Humm in the open kitchen at Made Nice during the opening week.
  • Menu recently got an upgrade for the summer but all of my favorites remain including the curry cauliflower and the khao salad. New items I plan to check out soon include the watermelon salad and the tuna nicoise.
  • Will be keeping a close eye on this project to see if they can maintain the quality and how scalable the concept turns out to be.
  • At the moment, they are absolutely on their A-Game: food is delicious, service is great, design and packaging are cool and beautiful. Absolute pleasure to eat here. Highly recommend!

 

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