Dining Trends: The Road to 2022

Miriam Bowers Abbott Miriam Bowers Abbott Dining Trends: The Road to 2022
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Every year, trend watchers diligently prepare a list of trends that will be hot, H-O-T HOT in the dining industry for the following year.  

And every year, we gobble it up like Thanksgiving Turkeys. You know what was predicted for 2020 and 2021? A host of random trends that included pea milk, lasagna, ethical spices, postbiotics, burnt cheesecake and flexatarianism, which is a new name for vegetarians who sometimes cheat. 

Looking at past predictions, the expectations tend to fall into two categories: 1) Ridiculous but brave and 2) So universal or vague that they are going to be true, no matter what. In that same tradition, some 2022 predictions are already out from the likes of Forbes and Whole Foods. Get ready for hibiscus, sunflower seeds, and “more variety.” 

Thinking more philosophically though, dining trends tend to last more than a year. Consider charcuterie: It’s hot now, but it hasn’t always been quite so ubiquitous. The local genesis of its ascent feels like something that happened around Mouton’s debut in 2010 with its fancy meats and cheeses. In time, charcuterie’s popularity will likely fade some, but it’ll never go quite into obscurity. Now think about creme brûlée, calamari, macarons, and cupcakes. At one point in recent memory, they were everywhere. Now, not so much. 

All this calls for a dose of humility in making observations about food trends. It does feel like kale has peaked, yes? It’s not going to disappear, but microgreens and beets (not together) are hotter in salads right now. Same deal for Brussels sprouts. Their appearance on pizza is probably the apex for them (you can find that at Little Palace, by the way), they can wane now. 

Cauliflower, though, we’re still deep in that trend, and it’s expanded. What started as a potential substitute for rice or mashed potatoes now serves as pizza crust at Donato’s. The Short North’s TownHall offers Buffalo Cauliflower lettuce wraps. At Chapman’s Eat Market, it’s the foundation of General Tso’s Cauliflower with peanuts, sesame seeds and serrano chilis.  

Cold cuts are on the move, too. And we mean a very particular type of sandwich that’s having a moment. Look at Wario’s acclaimed Cold Cut Combo with house made giardinara. And newcomer Hoagie City in Hilliard has been practically crushed by the welcome wagon for its menu that features of host of cold cut sandwiches (and cheese steak). But it’s not just animal flesh: The vegetarians are building a cold cut community of their very own. Seitan’s Realm is a vegan deli in Clintonville and Vida’s Plant Based Butcher brings meat-free cuts to Grandview. 

The cold cut craze feels like a possible extension of charcuterie’s popularity. Only instead of cured meats and cheeses artfully arranged on a tray, they’re crammed between bread for faster eating.

Something is happening in the Mediterranean Dip Situation as well. Hummus is not a particularly unusual option as an appetizer, but it seems to have entered an era of dominance on local menus, while opening the door for a host of other Mediterranean-styled dips. So, for example, you can build a bowl at Zaytoon, using hummus as a foundation. It’s served with pickled vegetable relish at Alqueria. At Barcelona, hummus is part of a tapas tower with olives, manchego cheese and almonds. There’s cilantro hummus at Sidebar; Nosh makes it with smoked chickpeas; Aroma adds avocado. Meanwhile, Fireproof and Comune both feature baba ghanoush options on their menus. 

Burrata is rising. Please, let it replace the ever-present menace of gratuitous goat cheese on menus. At Guild House, it’s served with sourdough toast and avocado; at [‘plas] with roasted tomato and pesto; La Tavola with a citrus mix; and Rossi accents it with fig. 

Some riskier wild cards for the new year? We’re rooting for funky fries (teamed with a fancy vinegar or fried in beef lard), pedigreed spicy honey, chimichurri, and pickled eggs. The latter of which has already been spotted in fine form with horseradish cream at Wolf’s Ridge.

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