For the 5th straight year, Andrew Freeman and Co. is predicting hot trends in the food and beverage industry. One of their goals is to aid the operator, but they give the public interesting ideas as well. I have taken a few of the trends that I think will take hold, and paraphrased them in a Vegas context. We’ll see how many come to fruition.
The Year of the Potato-Freeman is predicting that new spud menus will enable restaurant goers to choose the cut, crispness and sauce for their fries. One such chain that tried and failed at this game was a Belgian fry emporium called Benita’s Frites, where the potatoes were double fried for extra crispness, and about 25 sauces available.
Let’s just say they were ahead of their time, even in Los Angeles. I love the idea of French fry option, and am going with Freeman’s call.
Hundred Flavors-Ben and Jerry’s may have run out of new ideas, but chefs haven’t. In Vegas, exotic ice creams are already being done by rm seafood, which serves a 16-flavor sampler that is free to anyone if they can guess all of them correctly. Anyone for mangosteen?
Grilled Cheese-I was underwhelmed by Dad’s Grilled Cheese, where the sandwiches are workmanlike and not especially imaginative, but I am looking forward to this trend, started years ago by Nancy Silverton at L.A.’s Campanile.
The concept hasn’t gone main stream yet, but it will soon. In time, you’ll be eating grilled Fontina on 7-grain sourdough with mango and pancetta, or grilled Jewish rye with Brie, pears and smoked sable.
Modern Thai Cuisine-Everyone, it seems, has discovered regional Thai cooking, one aspect of the industry where Vegas ahead of the curve. I expect a restaurant like David Thomson’s Kittichai from New York will surface here eventually, but until it does, we have Lotus of Siam, Thai House on Maryland and Silverado Ranch, and newcomer Le Thai where we can enjoy top notch Thai cooking.
Strip Service-Restaurants are finding oddball ways to cut costs, one of them being what an innovative place in Los Angeles, A-Frame, is doing these days. Guests at the restaurant bus and set their tables. No thank you. This idea is a loser if I’ve ever heard one.
Indian Street Fare-Chaat, Indian spiced snacks, are gaining a toehold on the American table. In Gujurat, where they tend to be sweet, spicy and caloric, masala cashews, noodles made from garbanzo flour and a number of milk sweets constitute an obsession with natives. Vegas is a good market for this stuff, thanks to a growing Indian population and the hot summer clime.
Breakfast-Breakfast is the new dinner, proclaims Freeman. This may be the case in New York or San Francisco, but Vegas is for night owls, not really a breakfast town. Yes, we have options; a terrific place on S. Eastern called Bread and Butter, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon on the Strip and a few branches of The Original Pancake House. But this idea won’t take root here the way it will in major market cities.
Go Hungary-Freeman also predicts Eastern European cuisine will be exploding. Nope. It’s been tried here, and it usually falls flat. It’s just too hot most of the year for cold weather dishes like borscht, goulash and Stroganoff. I actually love this stuff, but it wasn’t invented to have in the desert.
Frozen Cocktails in jellies and sorbets.-Vegas has slushy drinks that you can dispense from an ice machine, but they’re boring. Maybe they will finally grow up. Jellied Cuba Libre sounds good to me.
Fruit Beers-Microbreweries around the country are beginning to add fruit juice to beer. Does beer really need them? I hope Freeman’s not serious.
1-2 Shot-This idea is essentially serving a beer chaser with a shot or cocktail. Big deal. I can order one myself without a bartender’s help.
Vintage Beers-How absurd can you get? Hey, Ralphie, the barley’s in early this year. We’ve had a dry season, and just get a load of the hops.
Freeman & Co’s Trends may be found here.
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