Restaurant Trends for 2017


Last week we showed you the top ten meeting trends for 2017 from Benchmark Hotels, and this week we feature several restaurant trends for 2017, compiled by Russell Blakeborough, managing director/senior consultant at Focus – F&B/Global Food & Beverage Consultants:

What to expect for 2017 (and into 2018) for F&B:

Cuisine – Moving away from overly manipulated food, and moving to simpler, cleaner, preparations with lighter food; but with flavors that are bold and edgy.

Trends to watch:

  • Chef-centered concepts
  • Locally sourced, but not necessarily organic or health foods
  • Reasonable portions – walk away satiated but where you can still walk!
  • Underutilized meats and seafood – rebirthed with sexier names
  • Exotic grains and seeds
  • House-made ingredients – from pickles to condiments, charcuterie, and beyond. Let the chef create!
  • Ethnic spices, ingredients, and fused dishes
  • Sustainable seafood [but really this time!]
  • Lightly sweet, sometimes savory, and smaller-sized desserts
  • Grown-up street food
  • Still more forms of bacon, which continues to dominate the taste buds
  • Healthful kid’s meals, but ones that are still attractive to kids
  • All-day breakfast inspired meals
  • Shared plates designed for grazing
  • Take home kits – all you need to cook at home

Beverage – The art of crafted cocktails continues to grow, but with an emphasis on the individual bartender’s skills and passion. These individuals are chef-like in their approach to the art of mixing and of blending flavors.

Trends to watch:

  • In-house barrel aging
  • Flavored [but not sweet] beers
  • Dessert cocktails for after dinner
  • Better wine apps – leading to more thoughtful and appropriate menus and pricing
  • Boutique rums continue to grow
  • Food components as ingredients – cucumber, fennel, tomato, herbs
  • Spicy or sharp cocktail ingredients – cayenne, chili, wasabi
  • Lunch cocktails are back – for a light afternoon pick-me up
  • Quality boxed wine makes a comeback

Restaurants – New concepts tend to be specific in design, yet vague in menu. Meaning that new concepts can be an adventure, telling a story, with a style, feel, and cuisine that links to the ingredients of the food and the décor, but still offer broad menu choices. They are using a mix of authentic dishes, fused dishes and having the key ingredients laced throughout the menu – appealing to all.

Trends to watch:

  • Native American fusion
  • Basque cuisine
  • Hawaiian-influenced menu items
  • Southern nouvelle
  • Gluten-free and meat free – without being touted
  • Delivery – restaurants struggle to incorporate the growing demand for delivery service into their daily business model
  • Ingredient descriptors: Burnt, bubby

Décor Styles – Light and airy design, with little clutter and clean lines. Natural elements adorn the walls and tabletops. White is the color of choice with splashes of other colors.

Service – Genuine, authentic, and knowledgeable service staff. We are seeing a new breed of waitstaff and a resurgence of passionate and skilled servers emerging into the restaurant scene. Along with tattoos, piercings, and larger than life characters!

Bonus: Two fun concepts to watch:

  • Chefs at your table – a modern twist on the classic tableside cooked meal
  • Guest immersion – entertainment in the restaurant – movies, singing, poetry, vignettes, mystery theater, even gaming

Russ Blakeborough is a food & beverage consultant with Focus – F&B-