Hot restaurant menu trends for 2012


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Freeman offered the following predictions and observations of restaurant innovations:

Wild ice creams and veggies for dessert: Savory flavors like bacon and lobster, as well as vegetables and unusual spices, are appearing in house-made ice creams.

At Murray Circle in Sausalito, Calif., for example, a pear dessert is served with licorice sabayon, pear confit, candied beets and sourdough ice cream. At Max and Mina’s in Queens, N.Y., ice cream is flavored with grass and horseradish.

In San Francisco, Atelier Crenn offers a Douglas fir ice cream pop, which is served over smoking dry ice with fresh Douglas fir nettles.

Hand-pulled noodles: Celebrity chef Martin Yan plans to open a new concept in San Francisco in February 2012, where a noodle chef will twist and pull lumps of dough into strands of thin noodles using only his hands.

Infusions and cocktails on tap: Chefs and bartenders have long added flavors to booze, but Freeman noted some unique offerings, such as vodka infused with the flavors of a sourdough grilled cheese sandwich, and beer infused with fruit.

Zwack, a liqueur made in Hungary with a blend of herbs and spices, is also appearing on bar lists, he said, as is Bärenjäger, a honey-flavored liqueur.