Pies are predicted to be the top restaurant trend in 2011, according to Andrew Freeman & Co., a California consultancy. The emergence of pies, both sweet and savory, as a top trend in 2011, follows on the heels of the current cupcake trend.
Andrew Freeman of Andrew Freeman & Co. notes that some restaurants are showcasing their wide variety of pies during "Pie Happy Hour" events. In addition, restaurants are also creating bite-sized pies and even blending pies into milkshakes.
Other trends predicted for 2011 by Freeman include:
• The new mom and pop. Self-financed restaurants built on limited budgets are growing in number. The restaurants are typically small and the owners are extremely involved.
• One-ingredient restaurants. Restaurateurs are building their business around one key ingredient, such as gourmet hamburgers. Freeman predicts the trend to extend to grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs and sliders.
• Mini plates. Mini is expected to be the new buzz word in 2011 — mini portions, mini desserts, etc. Consumers still want to sample and experience as much as possible and 'mini' fits into consumers' tighter budgets.
• Dirt. Abandoning sauces, some chefs are turning to dried, crumbled, powdered ingredients to add texture and flavor.
• Hearth-healthy. Wood-fired ovens will be used to roast vegetables and larger cuts of meat and whole animals.
• Fried vegetables. Once-obscure vegetables are getting the crisp treatment with such items as fried Brussels sprouts, fried cauliflower and turnip chips.
• Soft-serve. Chefs are using soft-serve ice cream machines to produce savory flavors as well as more exotic flavors.
• Popsicles. Similar to the soft-serve trend, iced treats are showing up in flavors such as sugar-snap pea.
• Yogurt. It will show up as sun-dried, freeze-dried, smoked and pressed and in imported variations such as skyr from Iceland and labne from Lebanon.
In a addition, Freeman anticipates that meal options in 2011 will be influenced by popular ingredients such as:
- Pimento cheese. Smooth, spreadable, spicy and nostalgic.
- Smoking. Smoked olive oil, cumin and butter.
- Hummus. In sauces, spreads and ingredients.
- Popcorn. In various courses.
- Pretzels. Pretzel sticks and used as a crust.
- Honey. Chefs are developing partnerships with local beekeepers for use in sauces and dressings.