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24 posts categorized "Food for Thought"

December 30, 2014

What's On The Menu: 2015

Grasshoppers
Will we see you eating bugs in 2015?

This is the time of year when everyone looks into their crystal bowl for restaurant trends in 2015. Some of them are obvious—the increased use of technology-at-the-table for instance, so that customers can order, entertain themselves and pay their bills on a restaurant-supplied tablet—all without ever making eye contact.

Then there are those calorie counts that must be included on menus in restaurants with 20 or more outlets, movie popcorn, vending machine foods and alcoholic beverages. This one is interesting because it may—or may not—lead to consumers making more informed choices. Or it might scare them away altogether, like drinking that morning coffee without that morning pastry (sigh!). Restaurateurs are already offering smaller portion sizes (mini scones, two-bite desserts) and reconfigured menu items to make dishes lower in fat and calories.

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November 17, 2014

Everything Old is Nouvelle Cuisine

Small PlateTo be au courant these days, look no further than those restaurants that specialize in “small plates,” or “shared plates.”  If you want your own food, forget about it. At a recent visit to a hot new restaurant, we nearly took off someone’s arm wrestling for that last mouthful of a thumb-size crab cake.

The dishes at shared plates restaurants are meticulously prepared. Instead of spooning a sauce over the dish, it might be dolloped on the plate in a decorative swirl. The chef gets to exercise his or her creativity and the diner gets a one-bite beignet with slivers of mushroom artfully placed, or as a friend likes to call it, “tweezer food.”

But the idea of the small precious food perfectly plated is hardly a new one.

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July 31, 2014

To Tip Or Not To Tip? That Is The Question.

Untitled-2
It’s a given that those of us who have charm and personality (ahem), should have no trouble making fabulous tips as waiters or waitresses. Unless, of course, that four-top who sat for three hours was not amused by your charm and personality and left you a $2 tip. Or that four-top was amused by your charm and personality – and still left you a $2 tip.

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June 17, 2014

Fork and Spoon: Meet the 1200 Calorie Pasta Dish and the New Labeling Law

Cheesy_pasta

When we walked into one of our favorite chain restaurants for a family dinner recently, we were stunned into silence (and we can tell you, that is not an everyday occurrence). The restaurant, in compliance with an upcoming federal law, has added the requisite calorie count on every dish – ahead of the regulations.   

 

We were completely blindsided- but not for the reasons you might expect. We were looking forward to a nice meal – instead we ended up feeling guilty about calories, when we could have been solving global warming or at the very least, fighting over  who was going to pick up the check.    

 

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May 6, 2014

The Paleo Diet: Everything Old is New Again

PaleoBedrock, USA – This just in: From the heartland of America the newest trend sweeping the restaurant trade is, drum beat please: Eat Like a Caveman. Who knew Fred Flintstone could be so right on the money?

The Paleo Diet, which is based on a Stone Age hunter-gatherer model, has become fashionable at restaurants across the country, like Corner Table in Houston, Texas. These restaurants are taking the Paleolithic concept and turning caveman eats into a beautiful thing. At Corner Table, simple spaghetti squash and cauliflower are lifted to new heights of delicious. Paleo is a food plan well suited to restaurant chefs, who can take the time to work their magic on food choices that might be daunting in the home kitchen.

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March 6, 2014

Top 5 Fairly Odd Food Tales

Odd-tales
Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that truer than in the restaurant industry. From a wide-range of internet sources – some of them even trustworthy – we’ve compiled five of the most unusual experiences in the restaurant biz.

View them as cautionary tales – and be afraid-d-d. Or, you know, mildly amused.

 

 

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January 22, 2014

Theme Nights Chase Away The Slow Night Blues

OystersWhether it’s a three-course dinner featuring lobster or a dinner with a guest chef, restaurants are increasingly turning to unique themes to bring in customers during the off-nights of the week.

Tuesday, we’re looking at you.

Finding a theme that’s a match for the restaurant and its clientele – whether it’s a one-off, or a weekly special - can be a fun, creative process. Take the ever-popular restaurant week, which began in New York in 1992, and quickly spread to large and small cities across the country.

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January 2, 2014

A Chicken in Every Pot; A Tablet on Every Table?

Tablets
When Applebee’s announced it had purchased 100,000 tablets for its restaurants, the news spread quicker than you could say “Wi-Fi.” It’s just one way the chain restaurants may rock the restaurant industry in 2014. The chains are known for their ability to make innovative and even expensive moves that often lead the way for others. “The chains have the capability to test things,” says restaurant consultant John Imbergamo, “They can try the idea at a Chili’s in Eugene, Oregon, and if it doesn’t work, they don’t bring the whole chain down. Chains can spread the risk among bigger numbers.”

In addition, the chains have the luxury of fine-tuning something until they get it right. Whereas the independent restaurants get feedback pretty much one customer at a time, “the chains can do it on a broader spectrum; they can get a broader look at whether or not something works.”

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October 29, 2013

The Wheels on the (Food) Truck Go Round and Round Part II

Josh Wolkon
Josh Wolkon / denverpost.com
In our last blog, we talked about the food truck and how it’s opening new markets in the foodservice industry. This time we look at why a well-established restaurateur with three brick-and-mortar restaurants would want to take to the streets. We e-chatted with Josh Wolkon, who has three vastly different food concepts at his three highly successful restaurants in Denver: Steuben’s (comfort food), Ace (Asian-inspired), and Vesta Dipping Grill (fine dining). Wolkon helped to launch the industry in Denver in a big way when he hopped on board the Steuben’s food truck.

 

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October 1, 2013

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Disgust
In our last blog, we talked about some of the products and ideas that we wouldn’t have given odds but then, what do we know? Today we bring you some foodie favorites and products that shoulda worked but didn’t – or that are still out there, but are fading fast in our never to be humble opinion. (We like  bacon as much as the next guy, but do we really need bacon breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Just sayin’.)

 

1) Runny Egg on A Salad

Where it came from: Probably out of one of those “mystery basket” cooking shows – you know, you have arugula, spinach, watercress– and a quail egg. So how do you put them altogether? Well, it’s not exactly a locked door mystery.  You lightly cook the quail egg, so the yolk is still runny and you gently lay it on top of the salad, so that the yolk mixes with the dressing when the diner mushes it all together.

Why it was doomed: Very tres chic. Very tres-mystery basket. Very tres-if-you- have access to fabulous-salad-dressings-from-sources-like-Village Garden, Piancone-and-Roma -  why do you need a quail egg in the mix, thank you very much.)

 

2)  Quail eggs

Where it came from: See mystery basket competition. Or, chefs who took Chicken Little too seriously.

Why it was doomed:  Although popular in Asian and other cuisines, quail eggs are small, hard to peel – and a true specialty item. Flash in the omelette pan.

 

3)   Ketchup in colors

Where it came from: Heinz thought kids would go for the purple and green colors.

Why it was doomed: Nothing says tomato ketchup like the color purple (you knew we had to work that in).   Besides, we don’t remember ever begging kids to “eat their ketchup or you won’t get any more fries.”

 

3) Colorless Pepsi

Where it came from: Pepsi came up with a clear version called Crystal Pepsi that was popular for about 15 minutes (Ok, maybe a year).

Why it was doomed:  Pepsi should be brown. Otherwise it’s Mountain Dew. Duh.

 

4)  Heirloom tomatoes

Where they came from: Down on the farm. Really why would you want some ol’ hybrid tomato, when you can have tomatoes just like you (almost remember, but can’t be sure) granny grew.

Why they are doomed: Plain and simple, they’re too pricey. And they usually don’t taste the money, so to speak. Unless you have a good heirloom source – and most of us don’t (granny’s land is now a 7-11), heirloom tomatoes are usually tossed together in a bin so the shopper doesn’t know if he’s getting Brandywine or Mortgage Lifter. The only one having a field day with this one are the folks out there naming the varieties.

 

5)  Bacon ice cream:

Where it came from: The everything-with-bacon national movement.

Why it is doomed: Nothing says tasty treat more than ice cream mixed with a little pork. Besides who needs bacon ice cream when there are logical combos, like butter and pecan and rocky and road?

 

6)  Silicone pans

Where it came from: Health concerns over metal pans; something new and different. Silcone pans could take the heat and were non-stick.

Why they’re doomed: The other day a plumber asked us if we had a pan to put under a dripping pipe. We immediately reached for our silicone pan. At last we had a use for it. Some things are great in silicone – spatulas, for instance. But the pans?  Too bendy, too flexible, too our-cake-just-wound-up-on-the-floor.  It did make a good drip pan, however. 

 

7)  Expressions That are Tired and True

Where they came from: Folks who think they’re clever and hip and a tad bit smug.  

Why they’re doomed:  Enough with the farm to table; locavore; snout to tail; cheek to jowl.  It’s like commercial jingles played over and over – at some point we stop paying attention. We deserve a break today.