The year ahead looks to be a colorful one, with a number of factors coming together to create exciting fine dining trends that will influence restaurants for the foreseeable future. From dishes that caters to the “bro” crowd to faux food and veganism going mainstream, menus across the country are poised to capitalize on evolving consumer tastes.
What comes to mind when you hear “bro food?” A piled-high burger, perhaps, oozing with all the extras? Or maybe a thick juicy steak or heap of sauce-slathered chicken wings? One fine dining trend that’s emerging in 2017 is the new definition of food for dudes. While the concept of this food area being rich and indulgent remains unchanged, more bro food is being created with a plant base rather than meat. This reflects the larger migration toward healthier, more nutritious eating that has upended the food landscape in recent years.
Vegan Goes Mainstream
While your local vegan restaurant will still be around for sometime, vegan dishes are rising from niche novelties to front-and-center superstars at mainstream eateries. Another fine dining trend tied to the desire for health-conscious living, vegan cuisine is being embraced by diners of all stripes as chefs trot out delicious, detailed dishes starring some of the most popular nutrition-first ingredients from kale and quinoa to spelt and more. As awareness over animal welfare grows and Generation Z — with its demand for transparency — comes of age, expect this fine dining trend to truly take hold.
Speaking of vegan, faux food — and especially faux meat — is affecting restaurants and chefs as another major dining trend. Again, this particular trend is tied to the rising desire diners have for menu options that won’t clog their arteries but still deliver the satisfying flavors and texture to which they’ve become accustomed. Chefs are meeting the challenge of developing menu options that incorporate a new wave of meat substitutes — such as Beyond Meat’s imitation burgers, chicken and meatballs — that leave consumers feeling good about dining out.
Sustainability: No Longer an Option
Consumers are exasperated with fragmented food supply chains, disease outbreaks tied to improper, corner-cutting husbandry, and questionable labor practices. In sum: many Americans are looking for sustainably grown foods and sustainable food businesses where they can spend their money in good conscience. Sustainability looks to be a long-term fine dining trend and not merely a passing fad, again due to the younger generations’ interest in a better way of living. Expect significant growth in pasture-raised foods as well as Kosher and Halal products.
The News on Booze
The news is that, well, there’s no booze required to have a good time. Today’s drink menus regularly include an option or two that’s alcohol-free. From medical and health reasons to pregnancy and more, many consumers now “just say no” to drinking and restaurants must cater to this shift by offering thoughtful and tasty creations that bypass the booze. Many mixologists are shaking up guilt-free creative craft cocktails with exciting, flavor-packed ingredients that rival their spirit-laden counterparts to ensure that patrons who refrain from indulging don’t feel like they’re missing out. As growing numbers of consumers become more mindful of their choices when eating out, expect this fine dining trend to make a lasting impact on menus nationwide.
The fine dining landscape is in for some exciting changes in 2017. With the right restaurant technology systems in place, your restaurant can monitor POS sales data as well as ingredient inventories to determine which fine dining trends can pay the biggest dividends for your business.