know that foods come and go, although the lines between what’s in
and what’s out are always blurry. "Food trends are like any
other trend — they typically become the norm as restaurants try to
keep up with each other. It’s sometimes hard to determine where a
trend starts and by who," says chef Brian Moran, culinary arts
instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.
the classical foods and techniques, and what was the norm in
contemporary food 30 years ago is getting hot again. Also, ‘local,
local, local’ will never go away. It’s here to stay and will only
get better," Moran asserts. "Cooks and chefs are balancing
their menus with fusion cuisines and adding old-school stuff like
spaetzles, sausage, pates, local foraging of vegetables, and amazing
meats like local lamb and other proteins."
the public is very open to trying new things, and the older crowd is
more educated and wants to learn more about the latest trends and
foodie topics," adds Moran. "Vegetarian options are really
the hottest new trends all over the country. Chefs are just paying
attention to the seasonal options and being more creative with grains,
root vegetables, herbs and local cheese."
Ed Lump, head of
the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, claims to eat just about
everything, with the exception of insects and cardboard. He agrees
that fresh, quality items are all-important "ins" for today’s
"in" now may be "out" tomorrow as chefs scramble
to jump on board the wave. The National Restaurant Association notes
slight dips this year in Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, liquid
nitrogen chilling and anything foaming. However, pickling, fermenting,
smoking and sous vide are gaining ground.
Restaurants are also reaching out to other cultures. La Merenda serves
an Indonesian sambal goreng udang (shrimp sautéed with ginger,
tomatoes, coconut milk and sambal over coconut mashed potatoes), and
The Cheel, a new award-winning Nepalese restaurant in Thiensville,
cooks up a veggie choyla with toasted soy nuts, garlic, ginger,
cilantro and flattened rice.
Fricasseed monkey brains have yet to find their way onto Milwaukee
menus, but try a 7-ounce kangaroo steak at Potawatomi Hotel and Casino’s
Dream Dance Steak. Other exotic dishes include the Pacific Northwest
barnacles at Hinterland, the cod cheeks at River Lane Inn, and the
shrimp goat cheese pasta at Cafe 1501. Rabbit and pigeon are next in
line, according to kitchen insiders.
It’s a wrap:
Put a little crustacean in your life with designer lobster wraps at
Fleming’s, a vegan burrito option at Cafe Corazon or a fabulous
sesame chicken pita at Lulu’s.
Here’s to ya:
Tired of gin and tonic? Find great innovative libations at the Mason
Street Grill ("Blu Berry Martini" with Stoli Blueberi Vodka
and Monin Blueberry Syrup), Red Star Cocktail Club ("The
Celery" made with Ransom Old Tom Gin, lemon, chamomile syrup,
house celery bitters and champagne) and Bryant’s ("Cherry
Benjamin," an ice cream drink concocted with snappy ginger,
smooth cherry flavors and top-shelf cognac). Microdistilled and
barrel-aged beverages are also going gangbusters.
A little bit
goes a long way: The French call it a menu dégustation. Basically, a
tasting menu covers small portions of several dishes, with several
options served as a single meal. Find a brilliant variety at La
Merenda, c.1880 and Ardent.
from notable Hispanic eateries like Poco Loco and Waukesha’s La
Estacion, fewer non-Mexican restaurants dabble in South of the Border
beans and rice dishes. However, Taco Tuesdays remain relatively
popular at taverns.
the roadside: Non-wheat foods are taking over, with the rise in demand
for gluten-free. Noodles these days are being made with rice,
buckwheat and quinoa.
Jack Sprat: As
costs rise on pork and beef production and decreasing water resources
in some parts of the country make it easier to grow lentils than
cattle, overloaded menus that try to cater to all tastes are going
bye-bye. Chefs subsequently are adapting to more vegetarian and
gluten-free options. Half-portions at lower price points are also
starting to appear.
Aw, nuts: The
duck testicles are off the menu for some time at Hinterland, according
to chef and owner Dan Van Rite. But bacon is still in and will be for
a long time, asserts James Beard Award winner Adam Siegel of the
Bartollota Restaurant Group.
Cupcakes are still on the go, but do not have as strong of a presence
as in past years. Yet house-made ice creams still have panache.