We have already shared our favorite new restaurants of the year (cheap and fancy), as well as our favorite individual dishes. So much for the good, here’s the bad and the ugly: The 10 food trends that Corin Hirsch (first five) and Erica Marcus (last five) hope not to see in 2019.
1. Acai bowls (with poke bowls running a faint second)
I still don’t understand the unflagging love for these textureless, overly sweet bowls of goo. Have we reached peak acai? Gosh, I hope so. Poke bowls appeal more to my savory-loving nature, but bowls in general are all blurring together and I’m looking for a different point of light.
2. Octopus (seared, roasted, braised) on every menu
I love cephalopods as much as the next girl, and in talented hands, roasted curls of octopus are dreamy. But the carbon-copy grilled octopus apps on every other new American menu make me wonder if the ocean is quickly emptying of these creatures.
3. Gratuitous mini-tacos
Mini tacos have crept onto the menus of even the most non-Mexican of places, so much so that even taqueria tacos are losing their luster for me. Can someone be tacoed out? I am here to say, yes, they can. I’m gonna drop a few global appetizer earworms: Pupusas. Momos. If someone rolls out a chicken-skin skewer this year, I will love them forever.
4. “Edison bulbs and reclaimed wood”
Collectively, our food team must have written these words a dozen or more times in the past year to describe a newly opened restaurant. Either we’re getting lazy at describing the prevailing rustic-industrial aesthetic (another 2018 catchphrase), or more nuanced décor choices are going undiscovered.
I know well-done barbecue can be heavenly. I know we have many talented pitmasters in our midst. I am thankful for both of these things. I just think barbecue as a driving concept for a new restaurant, especially one opening in 2019, may not be the wisest choice, because we may have reached saturation point.
Nutella is a perfectly nice pantry staple: what household doesn’t benefit from a quick source of sweet, chocolatey-hazelnutty goodness? But it’s a lazy professional kitchen that relies on this shelf-stable mixture of sugar, palm oil, nuts, milk and cocoa for all its chocolate desserts. Is there no other topping for a dessert pizza?
7. Instagram bait
You know who you are, Instagram bait: that burger that can’t possibly fit in the human mouth, the sandwich consumed by melted cheese, the innocent milkshake (or, lately, Bloody Mary) that is crowned with a meal’s worth of edibles. These are dishes created for maximum sharing on social media, not for eating.
8. Truffle oil
First of all, it almost certainly contains no truffles, just a chemical simulacrum of the aroma. But more important, not everything should taste like truffles. Lobster, mashed potatoes, spaghetti carbonara — they all taste perfect the way God made them. If I see one more blob of truffled burrata…
Speaking of which, enough with the burrata. It’s a perfectly nice cheese: fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream. But its very ooziness means that it rarely plays well with other ingredients. It certainly should not be stuffed into pasta, or baked on a pizza or any other cooked application that robs it of the cool freshness that recommends it in the first place.
The relentless use of microgreens as a garnish makes me nostalgic for the days when every steak and chop had a sprig of rosemary plunged into it. At least I could pull it out and discard. Microgreens, on the other hand, adhere to their host food, lending a flavor and texture that, often as not, does not marry with the other components of the dish. Think before you garnish.