The dishes and drinks making waves at chef-driven independent restaurants often become the inspiration for offerings at larger operations. To track the top flavors, ingredients and preparations trending now, Technomic examined more than 50 menus from indies across the U.S., ranging from food hall concepts to fine-dining destinations. Here are six trends to watch, gathered from the foodservice researcher’s most recent Emerging Eats report.
It may sound like the fragrant spice cardamom, but cardamaro is an entirely different item altogether. The name refers to a moscato wine-based aperitif infused with cardoon and thistle, both vegetal ingredients related to the artichoke. The resulting infusion is then aged in oak to produce a subtle, herbal bitter flavor with hints of ginger and artichoke. Mixologists are increasingly using unique bitters, often housemade, to differentiate cocktails.
On the menu: The Humble Narcissist at About Last Knife, Chicago
Gin, tart strawberry, Earl Grey tea, house blended spiced cardamaro and fino sherry
2. Cloud eggs
This fancy take on sunny side up or poached eggs is Instagram-ready. To create the item, egg whites are whipped, formed into fluffy nests and baked with the yolk in the center. The result is a prep that can rock the brunch menu, starring in an update of eggs Benedict, shakshuka, avocado toast or any number of dishes.
On the menu: Cloud Egg Toast at Pink Matter, Los Angeles
Cage-free cloud eggs atop lightly seasoned avocado on rustic multigrain bread
It might sound like an ingredient sourced from Hawaii, but hawaij is actually a ground spice mixture from Yemen. Two versions are used in Yemeni kitchens: A savory blend combines cumin, black pepper, coriander, turmeric and cardamom, while a more aromatic, sweet rendition is a mix of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. The former is used to season vegetables and meats, while the latter appears in coffee and desserts.
On the menu: Hawaij Spiced Chicken Kebab at Shuka, New York City
Chicken rubbed with hawaij and grilled, then served with spiced yogurt, s’chug, parsley and sumac onions
Peppery, leafy greens are showing up in more preparations, as Americans crave more plant-forward and ethnic dishes. Tatsoi is an Asian vegetable with small, dark green spoon-shaped leaves. It’s also known as Chinese flat cabbage or mustard spinach and has an earthy flavor with a mild mustard tang.
On the menu: Wok Seared Beef & Broccoli at Odd Duck Restaurant, Milwaukee
A stir-fry incorporating tatsoi, scallions, shiitake mushrooms, chile de arbol, fried rice balls and XO sauce