Mr Porter Eats
12 Food And Drink Trends To Know
The future is looking variously spicy, fermented and homely. Here’s what will be appearing on menus this season
Yukon potato fry bread at Nix, New York. Photograph by Mr Stephen Johnson. Courtesy of Nix
You may scoff at the idea that the things you scoff should be susceptible to the whims and flows of fashion, but food is not so different to clothing when it comes to trends. They begin when a particular sets of conditions conspire to create a new movement, then they spread across countries and continents until they’ve run their course and they shuffle off somewhere to die – in the case of food trends, usually on the printed “specials board” of a regional bar-restaurant concept (see small plates, deconstructed anything, stuff served on slates/boards/vinyl records).
However, just as there’s a time to kick back in whatever comes to hand and a time to wear the latest clothing trends, there is also a time to find out what in-the-know eaters are getting excited about as much as there is a time for a bacon sandwich. So read on and discover what you'll be seeing on menus everywhere this autumn – but remember, good food never goes out of fashion.
Sea bream at Ahi Poké. Photograph courtesy of Ahi Poké
We were all obsessed with sushi in the 1990s, and then ceviche had us hooked. But swimming rapidly into view is poké. The trend began in LA in 2015 then hit New York before making its way across the Atlantic, with Ahi Poke and Pokē the best in London. If you fancy impressing dinner-party guests this autumn, try this straightforward version from Hawaiian-inspired street-food purveyors, Pokē: “Use the freshest fish possible – tell your fishmonger you’ll be eating it raw. Our Ahi dish uses classic Japanese ingredients to flavour diced yellowfin tuna. Drizzle the prepared fish with tamari and sesame oil (go light on this!) and add finely sliced spring onions and sesame seeds. Serve over steamed rice alongside pickled cucumbers for crunch and tang.”
02. Diffusion restaurants
Photographs by Mr Paul Winch-Furness. Courtesy of Duende
Let’s be honest. These days, the idea of going out for dinner and finding a starched white tablecloth, hushed dining room, and waiters as formal as funeral directors is well, not terribly inviting. We want to share, we want wow-taste-this flavours, we want to put our elbows on the table – we want to have fun. American chefs have begun to clock this and New York City is having a wave of new openings combining top-quality, innovative food from famous chefs, but served in an unpretentious atmosphere. They are diffusion restaurants, if you like. The chefs behind the much-vaunted Eleven Madison Park in the Flatiron District, for instance, are due to open a “fast-casual” restaurant Made Nice on West 28th Street any day now. Meals will cost $10-15, there will be counter service, and diners won’t have to hang around. For proof the trend goes all the way to the top of the food chain: Russian franchise Teremok recently opened its first branch near Madison Square Garden, serving blinis and caviar in double-quick time and with a minimum of fuss. Even some London restaurateurs are in on it: much-lauded London Spanish restaurant Bravas Tapas now has a second, boutique outpost Duende on Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, serving up toothsome tapas and lots of cocktails. Head there now, before the hordes descend.
03. Cocktails from the kitchen
Photograph by Mr Charlie McKay. Courtesy of Below the Smoke
In London’s ever-changing bar scene, the summer’s most talked-about opening was Below the Smoke underneath Scandinavian smokehouse Rōk in Shoreditch. Why? Because the cocktail menu is designed by star barman Mr Matt Whiley and incorporates the techniques used upstairs (smoking, of course, but pickling and brining, too). Cocktail Cookbook (Frances Lincoln; out 6 October) by Mr Oskar Kinberg, the proprietor of Oskar’s Bar in Fitzrovia, will also encourage home drinks-makers to raid the larder for their alcoholic creations. “My customers are increasingly saying they don’t like sweet drinks,” says Mr Kinberg. “So the trend is moving towards more savoury and dry cocktails. People are used to juicing their own fruit and vegetables now, and from that it’s a small step to making a banging cocktail.” In New York, new bar Mace features herb- and spice-inspired cocktails, with spirits such as coriander seed-infused cognac and clove bitters.
04. Health kicks
From left: interior of Nix restaurant, New York; tandoor bread with dips. Photographs by Mr Stephen Johnson. Courtesy of Nix
As much as everyone loves Shake Shack’s game-changing Shackburger, at 490 calories, it’s an occasional treat. As we move into autumn we’re noticing New York restaurants recognising the fact that eating out doesn’t need to mean pigging out. Leading the charge are mini-chains like Sweetgreen or Chop’t, where diners can build their own healthy bowlfuls (surely you can squeeze a bit more kale in there?). Chef Mr John Fraser (of Michelin-starred Narcissa and Dovetail) recently opened the vegetarian Nix in Greenwich Village to great acclaim, and veggie haven Superiority Burger goes from strength to strength, bringing with it swathes of other plant-focused joints (see VBurger on Broadway, or the growing vegan Blossom du Jour, which now has five outlets across the city). Put down that freakshake. We’re watching you.
05. Your house is the hippest new restaurant around
Photograph courtesy of DoorDash
Those black Deliveroo bicycles are becoming as ubiquitous as the Golden Arches in our towns and cities. And it isn’t just Deliveroo that seems to grow by the day; its rivals Just Eat and Hungryhouse offer similar services – bringing a range of takeaways to our doors that was frankly inconceivable just a few years ago. UberEats launched in London this summer and will expand throughout the year; joining it will be the likes of DoorDash and Postmates, while Munchery is hitting doorsteps in the US. But they are just the vanguard of a movement harnessing technology to bring the restaurant experience into the home. The next takeaway trends take things even idea further: Olio is an app that lets neighbours and restaurants share surplus food and Give A Dinner Party is a sort of Airbnb for local get-togethers. Then there is Gousto, which supplies ingredients, along with a recipe to use them in, so you can whip up something delicious quickly and without a trip to the store. Can these apps ever recreate the sense of occasion that makes us enjoy going out for dinner, though? We are ready to be convinced.
06. Live to preserve
From left: spicy pineapple and mango pickle; dried apricot and turmeric rice; spiced crackers; spiced aubergine crisps; coriander and yoghurt dip; pickled shallots. Photograph by Ms Kim Lightbody
What starts as a restaurant trend often ends up in home kitchens. Preserving – pickling, fermenting, drying – is certainly not new, but it’s being rediscovered in an age when we’re increasingly coming to value traditional culinary techniques. “Preserving is no longer just about keeping food from going off – instead it’s a way of transforming it in flavour and health properties, and it’s a way to take back a role in food production,” says Mr Simon Poffley, author of Ferment, Pickle, Dry: Ancient Methods, Modern Meals (Frances Lincoln; out 1 September). “Summer and autumn are the best time to preserve due to the wide range of fruit and vegetables in season.” Stay a head of the curve – get pickled now.
07. A shore thing
Photograph courtesy of Atlantic Kitchen
Seaweed: it’s nutritious, it’s in plentiful supply, it’s inexpensive – what’s not to like? Not much, and yet, in the UK, a cultural barrier stops us from tucking in (unless it’s wrapped round sushi), but that’s changing. Waitrose began stocking fresh kombu seaweed earlier this year, and Hackney-based Atlantic Kitchen now supplies delicatessens across the country. It’s also sustainable, which puts it up there with insects as one of the food stuffs we need to get into. At home, mix strands of buttonweed (AKA sea spaghetti) into a simple pasta dish for a welcome splash of the seaside.
08. Subcontinental specialisation
Phuchka at Calcutta Street. Photograph by Mr Dom Fisher. Courtesy of Calcutta Street
Indian food is so much a part of the British dining experience that we’ve coopted it as our national cuisine. Sorry, fish and chips. It’s not too controversial to state that the dishes served in high-street curry houses, beloved as they are, are mostly an Anglo-Indian hybrid, and that that the sub-continent has vast regional variations in its cuisine (to eat in Punjab in the north, say, is wholly different to eating in Goa in the south). Nowadays, other parts of the Subcontinent are stepping up to introduce us to their unique foods: new Fitzrovia restaurant Calcutta Street brings Bengali specialities to town and the Sri Lankan Hoppers in Soho has had diners queuing since it opened earlier this year. “The British palate is well travelled and ready for distinct regional flavours, especially those with a unique history or ethnicity,” says Ms Sumayya Usmani, author of new Pakistani cookbook Summers Under The Tamarind Tree (Frances Lincoln). “The food of the Subcontinent lets us explore often misunderstood cultures.”
09. Craft beer matures
Photograph by Mr Michael Donk/Brew Bokeh. Courtesy of Crooked Stave
In Belgium, old beer aged in wood is nothing new. But it represents the next step for British and American craft brewers, and if summer is the time for refreshing pilsners and hoppy pale ales, autumn is when we crave more depth in our glass. The new tipples this year include Brooklyn’s bourbon barrel-aged Intensified Coffee Porter, or Crooked Stave’s L’Brett d’Blueberry, a golden sour aged in oak in Denver, Colorado. Cult London brewery Beavertown’s new Tempus Project showcases beer that has undergone long, slow fermentation. “The world of the wooden barrel is an unknown,” says founder Mr Logan Plant. “Our barrel-ageing project allows us to push beer into new territory. We use different barrels ranging from Scotch to Calvados, Bourbon to Burgundy. Wild yeasts and bacteria are used to create new flavours and aromas. Some varieties age for up to 18 months. It’s the ultimate beer experience.”
10. The hottest autumn trend
From left: the exterior of Grain Store, London; mushroom and celeriac scotch egg. Photographs by Ms Amy Murrell. Courtesy Grain Store
As our taste for South American, Middle Eastern and Asian foods grows, we’re discovering the diversity and nuances of chillies. Mr Josh Katz, co-owner of Berber & Q grill house in Haggerston, says, “There’s so much more to chillis than green and red varieties – and it’s not just about ‘heat’. There’s a whole range of different flavours (and colours) out there. Dried Aleppo (vibrant red, but with a mild taste) and Urfa (dark purple with a lovely smokiness) allow you to add subtle flavour without it being overpowering.” This is the season to be bringing chilli into your cooking, says Mr Katz. “The warm, rich tones of Aleppo and Urfa chillies pair so well with what’s available seasonally in autumn. At Berber & Q, we roast pumpkin with Urfa and sprinkle pul biber on grilled sweetcorn.” And at Mr Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store, a mushroom scotch egg comes with fermented chilli and miso paste – two trends in one.
11. We’re going to yuzu
Yuzu fruit. Photograph by Getty Images
Squashes and swedes are fine, but in autumn we all want a bit of zing to banish the gloom. So, thank goodness for yuzu, which is set to be the ingredient of the season. The Asian citrus fruit has a flavour pitched somewhere between lemon and mandarin and its juice is now available to buy in bottles. Its versatile, sharp and floral taste means it’s popping up on restaurant (and cocktail) menus in dishes beyond the traditional ponzu dipping sauce. Ultra-creative new Spitalfields restaurant The Frog stuffs beetroot sugar tubes with pannacotta and yuzu jelly. Even better: the tree will grow outdoors in clement areas of the UK and US. In short, you need some yuzu in your life.
12. Corn stars
Pork Carnitas Tacos at Santo Remedio, London. Photograph by Mextrade
Mexican food has gone gourmet. Mr Edson Diaz-Fuentes of Santo Remedio in Shoreditch, says: “It’s an exciting time for Mexican food: everyone’s starting to see its diversity. At Santo Remedio some people tried grasshoppers for the first time, or ox tongue, which we serve with pipián rojo, made of peanuts, dried chillies and roasted tomatoes.” It’s tacos that you’ll be seeing more of this season. Easily handled, less intimidating than burritos and smaller so allowing for the punchier flavours to shine, they’re the perfect street food. “A real taco must be made with proper ‘nixtamalized’ corn tortillas,” says Ms Feary, “and chillies like ancho, pasilla, chipotle meco. A taco must have a freshly made salsa or a guacamole, too.” Roll up, roll up.