Hot restaurant menu trends for 2012


Modern takes on Thai cuisine and street-style Indian food will be the hot restaurant trends in 2012, a San Francisco-based hospitality consultant said Tuesday.

Andrew Freeman, principal of consulting and public relations firm Andrew Freeman & Co., predicted a shift toward the exotic in an annual trend-spotting webinar.

Some themes Freeman highlighted are continuing trends that have been gaining steam for the past few years, such as the ongoing interest in grilled cheese, healthful indulgences and the customization of French fries with dipping sauces or style of cut.

On the topic of ethnic food, Freeman called out Thai and Indian concepts, noting that ingredients from those countries are becoming more popular.

For example, Thai-style issan sausages are popping up on menus. Some restaurants in San Francisco are even offering ghost peppers, one of the hottest types of chili pepper available, which is favored in India, particularly in the northeastern region around Bangladesh.

“I believe Indian food is really going mainstream,” Freeman said.

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He also noted that Eastern European food is gaining popularity, with Moscow 57 scheduled to be opened in New York by Ellen Kaye, the daughter of one of the owners of the famed Russian Tea Room.