There are many things to criticize about the restaurant business and the people in it. By it’s very nature it’s unlike most other businesses, as it’s quite open to close scrutiny by so many people. I do on many occasions on this little blog of mine make references to things I see as sub-par, silly, or downright awful in this business, and I must confess that while it appears that I’m almost perfect, I, by my own admission, am not.
I have always tried to keep away from trends and just cook what I like to cook, which mostly consists of Mediterranean flavors. I have certainly been guilty of many missteps, errors in judgement, and some seldom tendencies to follow trends. Trends are just that, trends meant to have a starting and an ending point. The problem I see often is some chefs and restaurants unwilling to give up on trendy items, preparations, and presentations when they have clearly passed their peak.
Following are some of the trends I think have run their course and it’s time to retire them, give them a break, or learn to use them with some restraint.
I really love hamburgers, and no, it’s not time to stop making hamburgers. What it is time for is to go back to the burger itself and appreciate a well-prepared, high-quality ground beef mix from great cuts like chuck, brisket, and short rib with the right lean-to-fat ratio without too many additions and condiments. Too much bacon, too strongly flavored cheese, eggs, chili peppers, and the now over-used sriracha should be left off. A good burger with a nice deep char and a good bun that holds up well without overwhelming the beef is all I ask. The time has passed for super burgers.
The gluten-free thing got old years ago. Eat better quality bread and other properly grown and processed wheat products. You can’t eat three slices of pepperoni pizza and then blame gluten for your twisted belly. If you’re one of the ¾% of people with an actual allergy, then you’re excused.
If you follow trends just to survive, then perhaps you need to reevaluate your place in this business.
Sometimes riding a trend is necessary. Who do we blame, the restaurant owners and chefs or the dining public? Or do we even need to blame anyone? It’s like what came first, the fried chicken sandwich or the egg on everything?
I love eggs on things, just not everything.
Balsamic reduction should have been eliminated a long time ago.
Everybody is doing octopus now. I had it on the Wine Bar menu five years ago. In truth, octopus is good, but it’s not great. What is great is bacon. However, bacon is over-used. It’s not the cure-all for adding excitement and flavor to otherwise bland cooking. Let’s add pork belly to the list, as well.
Avocado toast is one of the first solid foods Stella loved. She’s seven now.
Tuna nachos should have never started.
I’m OK with serving things like cheese or charcuterie on slates and boards but not everything works. Please figure out what works and what doesn’t. Steaks do not.
The overloaded Bloody Mary is just silly. If I want a drink I’ll order a drink. If I want brunch I’ll order food. I just don’t want to have to eat my drink.
Misuse of truffle oil. It’s not a condiment, so stop pouring it on french fries. One tiny drop of good quality oil from a trusted supplier is plenty to add at the end of something like a mushroom risotto. You’d be better off making your own truffle butter with high-fat butter and truffle shavings. Never get hoodwinked by a “great deal” on truffle oil.
If we could do away with the gluten-free paranoia, then perhaps quinoa would go away and the demand would stop hurting the poor farmers in Peru and Bolivia.
The Food Network, sex scandals, mac and cheese, kale, sliders, micro greens.
There are so many other choices besides sriracha. Explore some other chili sauces and spicy condiments.
Nitro brewed coffee, I just don’t get it.
Bone broth, or in other words, stock. Been making it for years. Escoffier made it. Millions of chefs have made it.
I love ramen, but it’s been around too long to be a trend at this point. I learned to make it in my dorm room in 1981. My roommate was Chinese (he’s still Chinese) and from Cambodia. Have you seen The Killing Fields? He had to walk 52 days out of the country with his father and brother to Vietnam to escape the Khmer Rouge. Anyway, he taught me how to make ramen on the Coleman gas stove we hid in our room. We had to feed our RA well. Even better when he found out about the deep fryer we had.
David Chang opened his noodle spot back in 2004.
Restaurants without focus perplex me. Ya gotta figure out what you are and stick to it. If you don’t know, then how will the public know? Many years ago I did a one night stage at Mare which was upstairs from Luna Lounge at 17 Maple Ave in Saratoga. At 9:00 pm the music from the dance club started and the floor in the restaurant shook to the beat.
I don’t have to explain the issue with pumpkin spice, do I?
We’ve done Brussels sprouts to death.
Let’s get some new ideas in 2018, I certainly will when I get back to the kitchen.
Twists on carbonara.