We celebrated Festivus by airing our grievances, noting a bevy of overcooked culinary trends we hope wane with the dwindling days of December. Now, as we get ready to celebrate Christmas, we’re asking that fat, jolly man in the red suit to bring us something delicious to replace what we’re losing. Here’s our wish list of things we hope to see in Big Apple dining come 2014.
Dear NYC: More BYOBs, please. I like the way these spots let us increase party sizes at the 11th hour (“Join! We’ll just pick up another bottle!”), and give us opportunity to enjoy the pairing profile we actually wanted — without a hefty price tag. Oh, and if we’re really good, can you please waive the corkage fee? –Nicole Schnitzler
Larger large format meals
Sure, you can get whole hog, lamb, and fish meals, but let’s take some risks here! Getting a group of eight to 10 people is fine, but if you can manage to convince 20 of your closest friends to join you for dinner, you deserve to tackle an entire steer. A few years ago, Mark Ladner roasted a whole ostrich for a MOFAD fundraiser. To that effect, why is no one farming manatees yet? Part surf, part turf, sea cows are primed for a nationwide marketing campaign. –Zachary Feldman
2013 was a great year for vegetables in NYC. From the continued growth and proliferation of rooftop farms and gardens — on a commercial scale at Brooklyn Grange or atop restaurants like Rosemary’s, Roberta’s, and Bell, Book & Candle — food seemed to be growing from every available nook and cranny in New York, and chefs really had a ball with the produce. Whether it was a Brooklyn Grange salad topped with spicy mustard microgreens at Northeast Kingdom this summer or a silky and subtle sunchoke soup with white truffle at City Winery this fall (not to mention the dishes I mentioned in my Best Meals of 2013 list yesterday), vegetables moved to the forefront this year, and if I could have one Christmas wish for food in 2014, I’d love to see more of that…Much, much more.
–Hannah Palmer Egan
That the alternative dining scene becomes even wackier
The alternative dining scene took center stage over the past year, from dining in silence at Eat restaurant in Greenpoint to feasting on caviar while actors reenact Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Chefs opened up their homes for in-the-know diners, underground dinner parties popped up in the most unexpected places, and people even risked being slapped with trespassing charges for a shot at a cocktail. I hope 2014 brings continued challenge of our understanding of entertaining dining experiences. How about a dining experience where you can’t use your hands? Or a four-course meal while riding the A train? I want to be blown away. –Billy Lyons
The return of Ssam Bar 1.0
I’m a godless heathen, but you better believe I have raised my hands to the heavens more than once trying to will the return of David Chang’s original fast-casual Ssam Bar concept. While the complete overhaul of Ssam Bar a few years back yielded one of the city’s best restaurants, I don’t know that I’ll ever find a replacement for the gargantuan burrito-like wraps proffered by the then-sophomore empire builder circa 2006. The sheer amount of liquid pork fat released from the charred hunks of bo ssam that filled the tortillas made the things hell to eat without making a mess, but it was affordable for the quality and, as far as I’m concerned, ahead of its time. It had an undeniably corporate feel, but let’s remember that at one time, David Chang happily served tofu. –Zachary Feldman
The rise of Middle Eastern food
If the glut of spicy tricked out Asian joints grows in 2014, I’m not going to be sad — I’ll eat Szechuan peppercorns until my face melts off, and Asian noodle soups (yes, a noodle soup from just about any Asian nation will do) are one of, like, four basic food groups in my diet. I’ll be happier still, though, if dining trends move on down the Silk Road and give new credence to the fare of the Middle East. I’ve enjoyed eating the inventive vegetable-forward dishes — tempered by yogurt and goat cheese and enlivened by zaatar, cardamom, and cumin — served in sharable formats at spots like Zizi Limona, Glasserie, and Balaboosta. I’m hopeful that those spots represent a new frontier in this city’s dining. –Laura Shunk
Give us that extra booze
We would be quite OK with a surplus of sidecars in 2014. These accidental overages are the bartender’s equivalent of an extra course — and trust us, our tip will show our appreciation. Plus, any drop of that $4-an-ounce concoction should really be going somewhere other than the drain — like directly into its investor’s coupe. –Nicole Schnitzler