What trends will we see emerging in restaurants in the new year? Aoife Carrigy polishes up her crystal ball, with a ittle help from some insider tipsters
1 Value’s not Value
“Value’s not value” is what serial restaurateur Elaine Murphy (of The Winding Stair, The Woollen Mills, The Washerwoman and next year’s Legal Eagle gastropub) describes as “a hilarious phrase which is set to sum up the ethos for food in 2016”.
Sustainability, ethical and ecological trading and food waste were certainly hot topics at 2015’s Food On The Edge food symposium. Run by Galwegian chef JP McMahon, it attracted top international chefs such as Daniel Patterson, whose game-changing new US-based Loco’l chain offers “fast food with real ingredients”.
McMahon has since been busy on Kickstarter raising funds for Farmer, a new Irish ethical fast food chain with a focus on provenance, sustainability and animal welfare. Watch this space.
If there’s one Dubliner who knows a marketable food trend when he sees it, it’s entrepreneur John Farrell of 777, SuperMissSue, The Butcher Grill and Dillingers. He stirred up 2015 with 1950s glamour a la SMS Luna, with the kind of elegant dining room that you’d don your gladrags for.
Food consultancy specialist, Tim Magee of Host & Co, believes that next year we’ll see “more dressy up dining”, by which he means heavy investment in pretty rooms.
“I love the idea of little restaurants or vendors in stalls that are doing one thing, and doing it really well,” says Katie Sanderson of Dillisk and Living Dinners fame.
Katie name-checks London’s Weligama (Sri Lankan egg hoppers from a street market) and Bao (steamed buns) as great single-item examples. “I think I’d personally like to explore this area,” she adds, having just dropped the bomb that there most likely won’t be a Dillisk 2016.
4 Fat of the land
Fat is back and butter is the reclaimed Queen of the Dairy. And who does butter better than we Irish? Chefs are taking advantage of all that rain and grass with dishes that celebrate our milk and cream.
They’re churning their own butter, like Barry Fitzgerald at Bastible, whose menu might also feature milk curd dumplings, smoked ricotta, or truffled creme fraiche for the house chips. And a cow’s not just for cream, you know. Indigenous breeds are making a comeback with the likes of Dexter and Glenarm Shorthorn being so hot right now.
5 Chuck’s back
Crispy chicken skin is de rigueur, while wings are getting a going over. London’s Smoking Goat and Portland’s Pok Pok pimp theirs with fish sauce for extra umami-whammy. Glasnevin’s The Washerwoman offer Washerwings, a three-way choice between classic Buffalo, Washerwoman BBQ or Chipotle Ketchup-style, each served with Young Buck’s blue raw-milk cheese dip.
The Washerwoman restaurant at Glasnevin Hill, Dublin. Photo: Damien Eagers
The Washerwoman Restaurant in Glasnevin
6 Ethnic reboot
With John Farrell, chef Karl Whelan and music guru Will Dempsey off to Hong Kong to research their new ‘contemporary Chinese’ juke joint (which Farrell is designing for owners Dempsey and Whelan), we’re set to see ethnic being re-mapped.
Farrell describes the yet-to-be-named Camden Street eatery as “contemporary Chinese, an homage to Hong Kong with an emphasis on duck”. Further up the road, chef Sunil Ghai of Ananda fame opens Pickle in the new year, focusing on regional northern Indian cuisines and eschewing prime cuts for rustic ingredients.
7 Here, fishy fishy
Once there was none and now they’re everywhere. Seafood eateries, that is. But it’s not just Dubliners who think fish is suddenly sexy. Berkeley Square’s preposterous Sexy Fish was the hottest thing to hit Mayfair this year. Next month, The Cliff Townhouse’s initiative called Here’s A Fish You Should Meet, featuring daily special lesser-ordered lovelies such as coley, dory or pickled herrings.
Smoking, fermenting, pickling, brining, curing — all these age-old ways of making food last longer often make food taste better too. And chefs love making food taste better.
Simple infusions can stretch out seasonal flavours, while the lighter touch of marinating may not preserve so much as transform — think raw fish as reconfigured in ‘poke’, an on-trend Hawaiian-style ceviche.
Expect a further embracing of these age-old arts, with a particular scope for non-alcoholic fermented drinks such as kombucha and kefir to become the new cold-pressed juice (as per The Fumbally’s lead).
9 Super Sprouts
We all want to eat well. And we all want to live well. “Can’t we do both?” asks almost everyone these days, and daytime
Hotspots Counter Culture, Cocu and Sprout & Co are answering with clever takes on clean food.
Besides their cold-pressed juices, Sprout & Co offer chia porridge, various veg-tastic salads and build-your-own protein boxes (the new sandwich). There’s kale too, natch
Murphy’s “old-school gastropub” Legal Eagle will have “an unprecedented whiskey bar with people able to keep and mark their own bottles”, with which to wash down all sorts of fare, from devilled kidneys and jugged hare to hefty salads and soul-food sambos.