Many crepe shops opened in 2012, but about half are already closed. French pancakes simply weren’t the next big thing.
Will 2013 turn out to be more of the same, restaurant-wise? Not on your life! Here are 10 trends FiTR expects to see in the coming year, some yawningly predictable, others nearly shocking.
The revolutionary duck schnitzel, at The Marrow (see #3)
1. The short-lived crepe phenomenon is suffering a quick and painless death. Fro-yo will also decline in popularity, especially places where you don’t get to squirt your own and then top it with tons of crap, weighed by the ounce. But console yourself: Hamburgers will continue to grow in popularity. Pork belly won’t disappear, but you’ll be seeing a lot less of it. Maybe pigs are slimming down!
2. Short-dish places will continue to flourish, but the menus will become more diverse, moving away from the Spanish tapas bar, Japanese izakaya, and Italian wine bar formulas to incorporate nearly anything. Still, we’ll have to listen to the same maddening lecture when we arrive about how all the dishes are for sharing, they might arrive anytime, and the restaurant recommends we order at least two or three per person.
3. Rabbit is the new chicken, and it will be the rare bistro that doesn’t have a bunny ragu, deep-fried bunny, or cold bunny salad. Menus will also fill with game, including deer, buffalo, grouse, pheasant, squab, and, especially, duck. Many more menus will be quacking in 2013.
4. Restaurants will learn it’s in their best interest to put more bottles at the lower end of the wine list. They’ll find that diners will quaff more and leave the restaurant in a better mood, resolving to return. No longer will wine lists at modest establishments be directed exclusively at “whales” and “high-rollers” willing to blow $100 and more on a bottle at a place with $20 entrées.
5. Organ meats have made inroads into many New York menus. This trend will continue because: Organs are cheaper, pound for pound, than other meats; organs taste good, or at least different, from other meats, broadening the meat repertoire; diners have become inured and no longer fear organs the way they once did. Well, maybe not brains and kidneys, but you might see those later, after the populace has been softened up with tripe, liver, blood sausage, and bone marrow.
This delicious red Bordeaux is only $22 at Le Philosophe (see #4)
Barbecue will get even bigger: the hot links and pork ribs at Fletcher’s (#6).
6. You think the city’s got lots of good barbecues already? Ones that serve good, smoky meat with no liquid smoke, and sometimes with no sauce? Well, you’re going to see more, partly because the Paleolithic Diet and barbecue are almost one and the same thing.
7. Breakfast service will be added at many restaurants, but only a few will succeed in making any money at it. Menus will skew either too adventuresome or too dull. Do you really want bone marrow for breakfast? Or a three-egg omelet for that matter?
8. Udon and soba will finally have their revenge on ramen.
9. One restaurateur somewhere will decide to reinvent table utensils, following through with sporks, fifes, and soupoons incorporated into their table settings.
10. New front-of-the-house models, and models of the relationship between kitchen and dining room, will be experimented with, as is happening already. So will new point-of-purchase ordering systems, whereby you examine a list of pretty color pictures and place your own order. Placing an order at a counter, then having a runner bring a dish to the table with no intervention by waiters will be a popular new formulation. But we probably won’t see waiters going back into the kitchen, putting on aprons, and cooking your food for you. Still, it could happen.
Udon has its revenge at Mai Sushi (#8).
Check out 2012’s Most Challenging Dishes
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 3, 2013