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Plat du Jour: What’s Now and What’s Next?

After Monday’s announcement of the World’s Top 100 Restaurants according to the U.K.’s Restaurant Magazine survey of 800 international food critics and experts, I thought now would be a great time to wear the trend watch hat and see what is hip and happening right now, along with what will be this time next year. We can see the future clearly inside the bistro…

What’s In?

Modernism

The avant-garde, molecular gastronomy movement did not fade away because El Bulli closed. Foams may be appearing on fewer menus. That doesn’t mean we’re not seeing dehydrated this and powder that, led by Alinea, Noma, Mugaritz, WD-50, et al. Of the dishes that represent the present, there may none more 2012 than the “vegetables in edible soil” at Noma.

Foraging, Pickling, Do It Yourself

It’s the mantra of Noma. It’s the mantra of Brooklyn. Make your own jams. Pickle your own carrots. Forage for some obscure berry in the forest or along the FDR. There is a slight revolt starting against listing every foraging buzz word (Chatham Straight Line Cod with Mary’s Tomatoes, Napa County Wheatberry, and Strawberry Farms Basil…). Today we’re seeing more simple descriptions that don’t care where the fish comes from or even what it’s with. Just see the menu at Eleven Madison Park.

Prix Fixe is In

WD-50 in New York just announced they will be exclusively prix fixe for the first time in the decade old restaurant’s history. In Northern California, Saison and Meadowood have announced that they will be offering 20 something chef’s table prix fixe meals for around $500 each. This goes already with how nearly every restaurant on this list from Mugaritz to Chez Panisse is prix fixe. Doing research for an upcoming visit to Stockholm, Sweden, nearly every one of the city’s top restaurants AND bistros is multi course, prix fixe only, including the three from Stockholm in the Top 50.

Tickets

Pay and plan far in advance for your meal as if it is the opera or a baseball game. Next in Chicago started this, then came Saison, and now it’s going around the world.

We Don’t Need a Table

Considering the number of Michelin stars owned by sushi bars in Japan and seeing Momofuku Ko at 76 and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris at 12, there is no problem for diners in general eating at the bar or communal table…the bar is fine, but that communal table is a trend that needs to end.

The Sensory Experience

Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck and Dinner, both in the U.K. and Nos. 13 and 9, is attempting to combine holograms with what you’re served. Grant Achatz is exploring music as part of a dish. Daniel Patterson of Coi in San Francisco has for a long time considered smell is a key component of the dining experience.

What’s Next?

Plogue à Champlain (Foie Gras in Maple Syrup) and Boudin Noir at Au Pied de Cochon, Montréal

Foie Gras

What’s that you say? Isn’t foie gras about to be banned in California? Indeed it will be, yet because of the ban foie gras had had a resurgence of enthusiasm for it. Also because of the over top foie gras stuffed foie gras type cuisine presented by popular restaurants Joe Beef and Au Pied de Cochon in Montréal, foie gras is coming back. We’re predicting here California will still be eating foie gras too after July 1st.

Delis

Delis aren’t chopped liver anymore. From the smoked meats at Mile High in Brooklyn (which this week opens a Manhattan outpost) to the new Jewish deli Wise Sons in San Francisco, sandwiches will have a renaissance everywhere soon, starting with the meat that goes into them. Speaking of chopped liver, it’s starting to pop up on menus too. It’s a way for casual, neighborhood bistros to serve pâté, without the formal connotation.

Moroccan Cuisine

With Mourad Lahlou’s ground-breaking vision of modern Moroccan cuisine at his San Francisco restaurant Aziza and his new cookbook, the brilliant sensory experience that is the food of Morocco will soon be the next cuisine chefs attempt to tackle worldwide.

African Cuisine

Along with Morocco’s cuisine, other countries’ cuisines from the across the continent will start being modernized and interpreted. From Ethiopia to Ghana to South Africa to Senegal, we’ll start seeing more of these cuisines. We’re already seeing some of this starting with new visionary places like Radio Africa in San Francisco.

The End of Speakeasies, the Continuation of Mad Men

While having mixologist made cocktails, people do want to see their drink and (usually) their date. In speakeasies you can’t see your own hand. The popularity of Mad Men style sipping in plush booths and seductively dark environs is only rising with the current season being broadcast.

Chicken

Yes, chicken. Every list needs a bold prediction. We’ll get tired of pork jowl and lamb neck and soon appreciate a terrific moist chicken or quail or squab. There are more ways to prepare chicken than roasted on a spit with a sprig of thyme. Just ask Paul Bocuse.

Coffee Roaster-Cafes…Starbucks Will Fade

The third wave for coffee is thriving in west coast cities, Chicago, New York, and even Tokyo…you’ll see it in Paris, London, Moscow, Shanghai, and more very soon. This might be wishful thinking, but this new third wave may start slowly chiseling away at the previous wave, also known as Starbucks.

What is a Meal?

We’re seeing some of it where brunch is dinner, lunch is a whole duck, breakfast is at midnight, or early dinner is a few bar snacks…the whole definition of three square meals a day and three courses at dinner time are certainly fading away.

So, what really is next? That’s what we’re here to cover at Trev’s Bistro. Of course our predictions will be 100%, right?

To close today, what we hope will be next is the end of hunger and the end of obesity. Mark Bittman, one of our greatest and most eloquent voices in the food world, today wrote about this struggle and how it is so challenging to end one and end the other. Sadly as Mr. Bittman points out, ending hunger often leads to obesity.

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