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Irish Restaurants: Food Trends 2017

Published on Apr 12 2017 12:23 PM in Restaurant tagged: Featured Post / Dublin / derry clarke / Oliver Dunne / Gregan's Castle / Richmond Restaurant / Bon Appetit / Domni Kemp

Irish Restaurants: Food Trends 2017

So what’s new in the world of food? Andrew Jennings spoke to some of the country's top chefs about what we can expect in 2017.

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Derry Clarke Chef Patron, L'Ecrivain, Dublin

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
I think we’ll see a lot more emphasis on vegetables this year, as well as dairy, and I think there will be a move away from protein on menus. Anything ‘risky’ you might try out on your menu in the next 12 months? Foods like offal, liver, hearts and kidneys perhaps.

What ingredient do you expect to become big this year?
Sauerkraut.

Anything you’d like to implement at the restaurant but are wary of customer’s reaction?
Less salt and sugar. Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year? Cured salmon.

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
Seaweed is brilliant with most dishes and definitely will be on more menus around the country this year.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes?
Vegetarian and vegan will be big over the next few years, with protein likely to become something of a luxury.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
Non-alcoholic cocktails.

What was the biggest problem for restaurants last year and what do you think that will be in 2017? Confirmed bookings not showing up is a big problem across our industry.


David Hurley Head chef, Gregan's Castle, the Burren, Co Clare

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
I think we will continue to see an increase in global influences both from the point of view of themed restaurants, such as ramen bars etc, and influences in restaurant dishes.

What ingredient do you expect to become big this year?
Butter.

Anything you’d like to implement at the restaurant but are wary of customer’s reaction?
I’d like to introduce some fermentation, with vegetables in particular, but I think our clientele have a more traditional taste, so I’m not sure about it.

Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year?
Using pea shoots to garnish all dishes, including desserts!

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
No. I don’t think so. I think seaweed is such a distinctive flavour and it takes a very skilled chef to use it correctly. Chefs like Kevin Murphy at idás restaurant in Dingle, and Enda McEvoy at Loam can make a dish taste amazing with it, but in the wrong hands, it can be a real car crash experience.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes?
I think we will see more and more chefs buying into this way of cooking, especially when the likes of rising star Mark Moriarty is winning such a prestigious competition as the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year with his amazing celeriac dish.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
I think there will be an increase in demand for non-alcoholic cocktail style drinks, possibly fuelled by the retail sector, which has really expanded its offerings of alternative plant-based and fermented drinks.

What was the biggest problem for restaurants last year and what do you think will be in 2017?
For both years, recruiting and retaining good staff with the necessary skillset for the relevant positions.

 

Stevie Lane Proprietor, Brownes Tuam, Co. Galway

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
Perhaps more interesting aperitifs and digestifs. I think we're ready to move on from just the glass of bubbles or an Irish coffee. Not knocking it, I do love both.

Anything ‘risky’ you might try out on your menu in the next 12 months?
I feel we've taken quite a risk with our current sharing-plates concept in a small west of Ireland town. It has been really well received. Hopefully we can roll out some more exciting ideas this year.

What ingredient do you expect to become big this year?
Different grains. Anything you’d like to implement at the restaurant but wary of customer’s reaction? I would love to serve more offal and secondary cuts. I think we will in time. It's about building a relationship of trust with regular customers for us.

Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year?
Nothing needs to be eradicated, just used in moderation.

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
It’s an ingredient I've used a bit through the years and have [had] a Galway supplier [come] on board just recently. Looking forward to using it (sensibly!) more in the coming year.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes?
We offer a lunch menu that changes weekly and is a real "grab and go" quick lunch, as that's what is in demand locally. It's a really exciting challenge for us to keep the menu quick and exciting. As far as vegetarian dishes, I think if approached seriously they can equal any meat dish.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
As we are a gastro-bar and are really keen to keep a real pub element to the business, it's an issue very close to our hearts. North European wine and quality tequila should be big. And rum and sherry too, not to mention amaro.

What was the biggest problem for restaurants last year and what do you think will be in 2017?
The economy and changed dining and drinking habits are and will continue to be our biggest challenge. It keeps it interesting. Also, attracting people to the hospitality industry as a career.


Philip Yeung Head Chef/Owner, Craft Restaurant, Dublin

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
Seaweeds, fermented foods to name a couple. Food waste is also a hot topic, as is the idea of restaurants growing their own food. We plan to put a few allotments out the back of the restaurant in March.

Anything ‘risky’ you might try out on your menu in the next 12 months?
Perhaps put a focus on a specific type of cuisine and try to modernise it. As Dublin is so competitive at the moment, you have to keep your menu fresh and constantly look for new ideas.

What ingredient do you expect to become big this year?
Kohlrabi. You can salt bake it, eat it raw, pickle it. It's very versatile.

Anything you’d like to implement at the restaurant but wary of customer’s reaction?
Try to bring back Sunday lunch… but the brunch crowd may not like it. Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year? The whole ‘local, seasonal’ menu declaration. Don't get me wrong, all the good ones do it, but it seems very cliched now.

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
I think it will get better this year. Not only is it good for you, it tastes good too when prepared correctly. It just needs plenty of push. JP McMahon of Aniar is a great promoter of it. We use it occasionally, but will try to feature it on the menu more often this year.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes? Yes, most definitely. Chefs are becoming more creative with vegetarian food, which is exciting as the customer will benefit. We always have at least two or three vegetarian dishes on.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
I think sherry will make a comeback. What was the biggest problem for restaurants last year and what do you think will be in 2017? Rising rents makes it very hard to find premises.


David O’Byrne (right), Head Chef, Richmond Restaurant, Dublin


What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
A lot of places are taking one ingredient and breaking it down into different elements. Places are doing a carrot dish and they're breaking it down so you’ve got the puree, you’ve got the roasted carrot, you have some other elements too. I think a lot of restaurants are doing that because it's cost effective.

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
I was using it last year and I know a lot of other restaurants that were using it last year. I now have seaweed crackers with a mackerel dish on the new menu. I just don't think people are educated enough about seaweed or they don't know how to cook it, to incorporate it into a dish.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes?
Definitely. We do a Tuesday tasting menu and the first two courses are purely vegetarian, then a meat, fish and dessert. I don't think a lot of restaurants want to advertise themselves as a vegetarian restaurant but they always have options there whether it's on the menu or off the menu.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
I thought gin was nearly finished, but not a chance. A lot of places are doing smoked whiskey. I do like a whiskey now and again. I've had a few more of them recently because a lot of places are doing smoked Old Fashioned’s and stuff like that and they're presenting them in deadly ways.

What was the biggest problem for restaurants last year and what do you think will be in 2017?
Rent is crazy. There are so many restaurants open now, there's such competition, so many different cuisines. The value around is just crazy, it's hard to compete with restaurants [charging] so little. For the first few months, trying to get people in here was very difficult and we kept the prices low and kept doing an early bird all night, all week, in fact, just to get people in to see what we were about.


Oliver Dunne Restaurateur, Bon Appetit, Cleaver East and Beef & Lobster, Dublin

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
I think an awful lot of Korean influences are going to come over as that's the big movement across the water at the moment. Things like kimchi will probably find its way into Irish restaurants.

Anything ‘risky’ you might try out on your menu in the next 12 months?
No. I don't buy into fads personally. In Ireland, we are a very safe eating nation. Fads don't last but in every fad there are one or two little bits of magic that we keep and that becomes mainstream.

Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year?
The movement of food in Ireland has pretty much gone in the lunchtime trade, it's really sort of died in the restaurant world. It's all coffee shops and cafes and takeaways. People are always healthy and hopefully that's not a fad, hopefully that's something that continues. That's really the main emphasis, people want, ‘quick convenience’ as opposed to a meal. Ten years ago, restaurants for lunch used to do quite well; five years ago even though it was in the middle of a recession, they probably did better than they are doing nowadays.

Is 2017 finally going to be the ‘Year of Seaweed’?
No, absolutely not. Seaweed is talked about by some minute aspects of the press, that go on about seaweed and health benefits and health qualities. To my knowledge, there hasn't been a chef in this country that has actually embraced seaweed. Myself, I've tried it in a few different things and no, seaweed as such should be left in the sea.

Casual healthy-eating restaurants are hugely popular now. Will we see vegetarian dishes that push boundaries and rival meat dishes?
Yeah, I do think that. That's more to do with the ability of the chef than lack of desire I think. At the end of the day, I've run a restaurant for a long time, and there are very few real vegetarians out there. A lot of people call themselves vegetarian but they eat fish.

Drinks wise, do you expect anything to become popular besides gin and whiskey?
Probably not. Vodka is starting to pop its head up. There are more vodka infusions and that sort of stuff but I don't think it'll ever take off to the same level of gin and whiskey.


Domni Kemp, Itsa bagel, Hatch & Sons, Feast Catering

What food trend are we likely to see more of in Irish restaurants this year?
Food that appeals to health trends and particular diets is set to continue. Coupled with that, I see a real trend towards ‘backlash’ dishes – things that are the epitome of ‘bad’ that taste so good.

Anything ‘risky’ you might try out on your menu in the next 12 months?
Not really. I generally keep an eye on what is happening in New York, LA and Copenhagen, as well as London. But if we think it will sell and tastes great, then we tend to jump first and then analyse success afterwards.

What ingredient do you expect to become big this year?
Seaweed will continue to shine. I also think there will be more emphasis on controversial things like raw milk.

Any food trend from 2016 that you think restaurants should halt this year?
I feel a blind rage when I am 'told’ what I am eating. I ordered it 10 minutes ago, for goodness sake, I don't need to be reminded! It's different if it's a surprise tasting menu. But seeing an erroneous pinkie finger pointing way too close to my dinner, makes my blood boil.

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