Baum+Whiteman of Brooklyn NY creates high-profile restaurants around the world for hotels, restaurant companies, museums and other consumer destinations. Based in New York, their projects include the late Windows on the World and the magical Rainbow Room, and the world’s first food courts. They have provided
Technology is dictating the dining experience. More restaurant companies experiment with tablets … letting guests order food and drink from their tables; play games while they’re waiting; then pay with smartphones … meeting a waiter when an order is delivered, or when it’s time for a refill from the bar, or for upselling desserts. Restaurants with reservations backlogs are inching toward tech-enabled pay-for-tables systems … with people buying “tickets” for dinner like seats on an airplane. Often non-refundable. Restaurants get paid before dinner; even before buying food … enhancing cash flow and cutting out excessive inventory because they’ve always got a guaranteed house-count.
New flavors, new products, radical mashups pour out of restaurants and food labs … and “authenticity” not happening. Ugly root vegetables. Celery root, parsnips and kohlrabi are grabbing attention in restaurant kitchens … fried, mashed, pureed, gratineed; flavored with cured pork or smoked honey … humble themselves, replacing potatoes. Seaweed is becoming increasingly popular. Consumers recognize it as a packaged snack and as a California roll’s wrapper. But chefs are adding it (often silently) to poaching broths, seafood sauces, even risotto, for its punch of umami and evanescent background flavor and dash of salinity. They’re inspired by a sustainable sea-to-table ethos … and also by new-Nordic cooks searching for food under tree stumps and boulders. More than a dozen varieties tickle the fancy of locavore chefs.
Chefs and big restaurant chains are experimenting with piquant honey: habanero honey, jalapeno honey and ghost chili honey, ginger-citrus honey … going on chicken-and-waffles, whipped into butter, mixed into salad dressings, snuck into sauces. Same thing with jams and jellies. Revered Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn spreads its already hot sopressata pizza with chili honey, getting lots of press for its efforts.
Health-crazed consumers gorge on fruit-flavored, yogurt unaware that they’re buying candy-level calories. Now comes vegetable yogurt . After launching flavors such as butternut squash, beet, carrot, and tomato, the Barber brothers, Dan and David, are being scrutinized by big yogurt manufacturers. A yogurt bar in Murray’s Cheese store in New York offers tomato yogurt and kimchee yogurt. Chobani, the biz’s big gorilla, has a cafe in SoHo … offering yogurt topped with hummus (see below), chickpeas, zaatar and olive oil; with spinach and garlic dip; and cucumber, olive oil and mint leaves. Such combos are standard in the Middle East; in the US this is a New York phenom since most of the country’s thickened yogurt is made there … but it’ll spread.
Google says that hummus has out-trended salsa, no small thing since salsa dethroned ketchup. The chick pea dip has become so Americanized … which means piled with flavorings … that the Subway is testing it as a no-meat option for its sandwiches. Another trend- they’re putting pork on just about everything. Drinks at trendy bars include beer with a bunch of sauces and spices.
Japanese snack foods; becoming popular. Shrimp-and-Mayonnaise or Avocado-Cheese Doritos; Lay’s Hot & Sour Fish Soup Potato Chips; KFC’s salty ginger-chicken chips; Pepsi-flavored Cheetos. Someone’s making anchovy-garlic chips … which gets you halfway to Caesar salad. Kirin is selling Salt & Fruit beverages, a combination of rock salt and fruit juices.
Toast is no longer just plain toast in some upscale restaurants. “Hand-crafted 12-grain bread sliced to order and bronzed over an oak fire, then spread with organic beach plum jelly harvested by genuine hipsters and topped with pink Himalayan sea salt ground a la minute”. Toast Ballard in Seattle has 13 offerings; Sqirl in LA gets $7 for Burnt Brioche Toast with house ricotta and seasonal jam. Perhaps the most Instagrammable is mashed avocado toast … NYC Cafe Gitane’s version with avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, chili flakes on a slice of seven grain toast is $7.25.
Adult Shakes- Ice cream & Liquor- Del Frisco in Atlanta offers walnut liqueur, creme de cacao and vanilla ice cream; Red Robin recently unleashed a bevy of shakes spiked with the likes of Blue Moon, Irish Cream, and a beer shake with stout and Irish whiskey. On a health food kick? Freestyle Cuisine in Lake Placid will sell you a shake blending avocado, vanilla ice cream, tequila and fresh lime. Aging boomers and skeptical millennials alike are seeking drinks that seem healthy and abandoning colas
…Little packets of flavor enhancers that fit in your purse now allow you to make everything edible taste like an exaggerated raspberry or a peach bellini. House-made soft drinks are hot among indie restaurants, slower elsewhere. Mexican roadside joints in the southwest are making ton of money selling “aguas fresca” … basically DIY water and ice drinks with a large doses of fresh fruit and flowers. And watch Taco Bell as it tries to do to, or for, beverages what it did with doritos