Quick-service and fast casual eateries such as Subway and California Tortilla are responding to consumer demand and upping the ante of spicy ingredients on their menus. According to a report by Datassential, Americans are eating more meals with hot peppers, spicy cheeses and hot sauces. The fastest-growing fiery ingredients are Southeast Asian Sriracha, Chinese chili oil and North African harissa, according to the report.
Patrons are looking for dressed-down fine dining and upgraded casual dining experiences, according to the "On-Premise Trends and Outlook" panel discussion at last month's National Restaurant Association Show. While patrons, especially millenials, are looking for their favorite craft brews and wines at their local fast-casual eatery, they also want fine dining experiences without the traditional multi-course meal and prefer to buy glasses of wine instead of bottles to cut down on dining time.
Chef Michael Trinidad wants to introduce New Yorkers to Filipino fare at his modern restaurant, Maharlika, and his latest eatery, Jeepney, a gastropub that serves Filipino soul food.
"If you look at the history of cuisine, it's the original fusion cuisine," he said. "There's Malay influence. There's Chinese influence. There's Japanese. There's Spanish. All these flavors came together to what it is today. What we wanted to do is to honor that."
New spirits company 86 Co. has released a line of liquors tailored specifically for bartenders. The ergonomic bottles hold rum, gin and tequila with amped-up flavors that give bartenders more control when altering the flavor of drinks.
"I heard over and over, 'If only there was a tequila that was a little stronger in agave! If only there was a gin that worked with lemon and lime!'" said co-founder Simon Ford. "They wanted to challenge the distillers to make spirits that were eminently mixable."
Food writers asked for clues that a restaurant will be good listed properly shaped wine glasses, butter that is softened before serving and salads that are "perfectly dressed." Bread that arrives warm and staff that does not offer cheese on seafood pasta dishes are also seen as positive signs.