Critic's Notebook

What Restaurant Trends Can We Expect for 2017?

James Beard Foundation released these last week, but how Seattle are they?

By Kathryn Robinson December 12, 2016

Bateau steak vt3wxt

At Bateau: The French will be in, the steak will be out. You know, theoretically.

Image: Sarah Flotard

  • French Food. “Ironically, the only place French food isn’t trending is France,” quips JBF…but it might’ve added Seattle, which had some interesting momentum around new French restaurants a few years back—but lately not so much. Just Bateau/Bar Melusine and the new L’Oursin.
  • Cauliflower. JBF calls it “the new kale” for 2017… but around here cauliflower is more like old kale, so to speak. I started noticing cauliflower’s ubiquity around the time Mamnoon opened, when it couldn’t keep enough of the cruciferous white vegetable roasted…now Harvest Beat is layering it into napoleons and Mbar’s pureeing it into hummus and FlintCreek Cattle Co. is roasting and serving it over Romesco sauce and on and on…
  • Kalettes. JBF sees a trend in this latest Frankenfood hybrid of brussels sprouts and kale. Here? Not so much. Apparently it’s been spied at Ray’s Boathouse, but…I haven’t seen kalettes anywhere else. You?
  • Diminishing Beef. Maybe that’s overstating. “While we’re not seeing beef disappear, we are seeing it less as a main course, and more (and in smaller portions) as a canapé,” writes JBF. Apparently they haven’t been to Bateau, Seven Beef, Butcher’s Table, Girin, or FlintCreek. (JBF does, however, nail the spirit of Tom Douglas’s Carlile Room in statements like, “Chefs cooking at the Beard House have increasingly made beef less of the star of their menus and more of a supporting player.”)
  • Fermentation. JBF says this ancient process is “gaining traction.” In Seattle, thanks to chefs like Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon---and plenty more---fermentation’s pretty firmly established.  
  • Vegetables. “We’re seeing vegetables take the spotlight,” JBF writes, and I’d indeed call that emergent in this city, as some restaurants devote ever larger sections of their menus to plants and others, like Carlile Room and Harvest Beat, all but carve vegetables into a business plan.
  • Technicolor Desserts. JBF mentions sprinkles, which I’m not sure I’m seeing more of lately. (Have you?) But technicolor dessert brings to mind Hood Famous Bakeshop’s Ube Cheesecake at Kraken Congee, for sure. Others?
  • Food Stewardship. Combating food waste is mentioned as an ascendant trend—see award-winning New York chef Dan Barber’s recent pop-up devoted entirely to cooking with food scraps—only I’m going to nitpick on that one. It seems home cooks have a lot to learn about reducing food waste—but restaurant chefs, in my experience, already know it. Have for years.
  • Tataki. “Tataki is the cold appetizer that is going to sweep the nation and land on every menu from coast to coast,” froths JBF. The Japanese dish featuring raw meat or fish with seared edges is indeed ascendant around here, if its appearance on two of Seattle’s most exciting new Japanese restaurants, Suika and Sushi Wataru, is any indication.

Want more? JBF has more, right here.

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