From high-end fast-food joints to popular mashups to the Mexican uprising, 2013 was marked by an insurgence of affordable dining options and bold flavour pairings. So, what’s in store for us this year?
The doughnut-croissant hybrid, better known as the “cronut”, reached cult status in 2013. Created by NYC-based pastry chef Dominique Ansel in his eponymous Soho bakery, these sugary, glazed puffs popped up everywhere, with local baking heroes putting their own spin on them (Adriano Zumbo’s “zonuts” are still going strong, and MoVida Bakery in Melbourne brought out the “dossants”).
We think there will be more of your favourite foods in mashup form this year, too. Popular Californian burger chain Umami Burger has amassed a following for uniting different cultural cuisines between buns. There’s the Ahi Tuna burger with daikon sprouts, pickled ginger and wasabi flakes and soon, the dessert/main hybrid, the Monte Cristo Burger: a beef patty covered in Gruyere fondue and prosciutto, sandwiched between two vanilla custard-soaked buns that have been deep fried and dusted with powdered sugar.
California’s Grill ‘Em All has also introduced a pizza burger, while some gutsy bakers from Brooklyn’s The Bagel Store are preparing to debut the “cragel” (a croissant/bagel mashup) later this year.
Forget the traditional parameters of flavour pairings – the general rule of thumb seems to be: if we love two foods individually, why not crossbreed them?
A return to cherished old favourites will continue to roll out this year, with traditional cooking methods being embraced by more chefs. New restaurants such as Riley Street Garage (Sydney) and Blue Breeze Inn (Auckland) saw whole roast chooks rehashed on the menu, while New York’s Nomad offers a $79 upscale version for two. Rotisserie meats are also all the rage at Philippe Mouchel’s French PM24 (Melbourne) and Merivale’s Papi Chulo (Sydney).
On the dessert side, “like Grandma-baked” pies and soft serves are all on the horizon, with NYC’s Milk Bar and Big Gay Ice-Cream in East Village inspiring pastry chefs like Andrew Bowden from Sydney’s Hartsyard to rework retro desserts.
While smoked salmon has been a menu staple for decades, in-house smoking has previously been shoved in the “too hard” basket for many chefs. But with domestic and commercial smokers easier than ever to use, more chefs are trying their hand at this ancient practice. Orphan’s Kitchen in Auckland have been drawing in roves of hungry locals for their now famous house-smoked salmon, while Fish Place in Sydney is offering over-the-counter fish and chips with a smoky point of difference.
In the last decade, the quality of a restaurant was partly judged by the number of staff fussing over each table. Today, a more casual approach to food service is being favoured. Mid- to fine-dining restaurants are following the lead of The Big Apple and David Chang’s Momofuku restaurant chain. “I just want to get good food by a chef who really cares about what they do and not have 50 waiters around me,” Sydney chef Colin Fassnidge told MiNDFOOD. The Irish-born restaurateur, who runs Four in Hand and 4Fourteen, cites Billy Kwong and Berta as two restaurants who follow this mantra.
New Zealand chef Al Brown collaborated with Whitestone Butter in 2013 to release a range of smoked butters. Nearby, Des Harris’s Clooney drenches steamed French beans in toasted nori butter. Bespoke butters will continue to elevate house breads and dishes to a new level in 2014.
Apple slaw, pulled pork, sticky ribs, crab cakes, fried chicken… we have America’s deep south to thank for a lot when it comes to comfort food. Auckland’s Tyler St Garage and Miss Clawdy’s, and Miss Peaches in Sydney’s Newtown are testament to our growing love for the New Orleans dining style.