Manhattan transfer

New York is the global capital of restaurant innovation. In this hungry-for-change city, Rachael Shapiro discovers the 10 latest trends - from rice-pudding cafés to dinner-in-bed eateries - that could be coming your way very soon
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Indy Lifestyle Online

With over 18,000 restaurants to choose from, New Yorkers are a picky bunch. The bulk of America may be stuck with ubiquitous chains such as McDonald's and Starbucks, but New York is a paradise for fussy food lovers. It doesn't matter whether they are eating a bagel, drinking a cup of coffee or buying an apple, it's rare to find a New Yorker who doesn't hold an opinion on which shop sells the best. Better still, New Yorkers are always happy to share their research with you.

With over 18,000 restaurants to choose from, New Yorkers are a picky bunch. The bulk of America may be stuck with ubiquitous chains such as McDonald's and Starbucks, but New York is a paradise for fussy food lovers. It doesn't matter whether they are eating a bagel, drinking a cup of coffee or buying an apple, it's rare to find a New Yorker who doesn't hold an opinion on which shop sells the best. Better still, New Yorkers are always happy to share their research with you.

When it comes to food trends, the Big Apple gobbles them up and spits them out quicker than any other city on earth. Restaurants crop up and disappear in not much longer than it takes to eat a salt-beef sandwich. New Yorkers have a compulsive and attentive love of eating out, considering it almost a duty to check out the hottest restaurant or latest fad.

The intense cultural mix that makes the city so great has created some intriguing fusion food (Chinese mixed with Indian, for instance) and gives residents the ability to explore regional cuisines from around the globe without having to step foot on a plane. New York even has a burgeoning English restaurant scene, serving trifle and fish and chips to those who hold Britain's often derided food dear.

The mix of cultures and a well-honed nose for commerce has generated a vibrant and energetic food scene that feeds this endless hunger for the new. And just like a Broadway hit, the pioneering food fashions that start in New York often transfer to the UK. So whether it is the cult of the coffee shop, juice bars or soup bars, the city's food culture can have a far-reaching influence on British culinary life.

So what are the next trends coming out of Manhattan? The following is our list of the freshest food fads - from the elevation of the humble sandwich to gourmet status, to restaurants where you can dine in bed - that are eating up the world's hungriest city. It's all there in the city that never sleeps - and also, it has to be said, rarely stops eating.

Gourmet sandwiches

Carve Unique Sandwiches, Eighth Avenue at 47th Street

Never mind that prawn and mayo at M&S, in New York a whole range of upscale sandwich outlets have opened to meet New Yorkers' needs. These haute sandwicheurs charge up to $14 (£7.50) for a sandwich which may, admittedly, be handcrafted from gourmet ingredients such as Kobe beef. Wichcraft, meanwhile, owned by Tom Collichio, has locals ordering such delights as grilled fontina, black-trumpet mushrooms and truffle fondue.

Second helpings Wichcraft, 19th Street between Park Avenue South and Broadway; Starwich, 42nd Street between 10th and 11th Avenues


Dumpling Man Saint Mark's Place between First Avenue and Avenue A

New Yorkers have always loved Asian food and are currently in the middle of a deeply satisfying relationship with the humble Chinese dumpling. Essentially little parcels of minced savoury foods swiftly steamed and served with a dipping sauce, they make for a tasty and satisfying snack. At Dumpling Man, a simple shack that opened this year, the owner spent years researching tang-mian, the technique of making dumpling dough. As you eat you watch three women knead and make the dumplings right in front of you. Variations are simple - pork, chicken or tofu with the odd foray into calamari and corn (from $3.99, around £2).

Single 'story' restaurants

Peanut Butter and Co, Sullivan Street between Bleeker and 3rd

Restaurants in NY are into telling just one food story right now. Some of the boldest specialise in very specific treats, such as Peanut Butter and Co, which serves peanut butter in 28 variations. The bold can go for the Elvis, a toasted sandwich of peanut butter, honey, mashed bananas and bacon. If peanut butter ain't your thing, there are plenty of other specialist restaurants out there. Grab a bowl of rice pudding at Rice to Riches or head to the recently opened Hummus Place that sells only three types of hummus. The next concept mooted is a "cereal shop".

Second helpings Rice to Riches, Spring Street; Hummus Place, Saint Mark's Place

Raw food goes hip not hippie

Pure Food and Wine Irving Place between 17th and 18th Streets

The raw food cult has lost its patchouli-smelling, West Coast vibe and gone glam and East Coast. The restaurant that has single-handedly changed New Yorkers' views is the luxe Pure Food and Wine. Set in the swanky Gramercy Park area, fans include Uma Thurman, Donna Karan and Natalie Portman. The place has worked hard to keep everything on the menu pesticide-free, heat-free and right-on. This is definitely luxury health food, though - you'll fork out up to $11 (£6) for a starter and up to $23 (£13) for a main course. Elsewhere, you can grab similarly healthful offerings at Quintessence.

Second helpings Quintessence, 78th Street between First and Second Avenues

Atkins to the extreme

Everyone else may be sick of Atkins, but New Yorkers are emphatically not - they can now get low-carb dog food and, believe it or not, pasta. And the vitamin industry is in on the act, offering special vitamins to help your body cope with the meaty regime. But for lazy New Yorkers who can't be bothered to figure out how the hell to balance their diet, there are a bunch of services that deliver lower-carb foods. One of the best is Zone Chefs, which delivers a food package straight to your door on a daily basis. It contains everything the carb-counting eater requires for a day - three meals and two snacks - and while this habit of not cooking may be expensive (around £550 a month), for over 2,000 New Yorkers the service is a daily necessity.

Good chocolate

Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven 350 Hudson Street between King Street and Charlton

Anyone who has travelled in the US knows that this world power has a problem - its chocolate bars suck. Thankfully, the many Europeans who populate New York are busy saving Americans from the foul brown wax they foolishly refer to as chocolate. The East Coast saviour of the cocoa solid is Frenchman Jacques Torres. Previously a pastry chef at the highly respected NY restaurant Le Cirque, Torres set up a fabulous chocolate shop in Brooklyn and is about to open an 8,000sq ft choco-emporium in SoHo.

Second helpings Vosges Haut Chocolat, Spring Street between Wooster and Greene

Gourmet food for kids

Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue at East 24th Street

To fine-tune manners and get little ones used to a life of dining in fine restaurants, NY parents can send kids to children's eating etiquette class at Eleven Madison Park. The Plaza Hotel, meanwhile, offers classes teaching kids how to write invites and organise a cream tea; parents with sweet aspirations send their children to Candy Camp pastry classes at Aix; while the Union Square Café runs a whole series of cooking classes for kids.

Second helpings The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at 59th Street; Aix, Broadway at 88th Street; Union Square Café, 16th Street between Fifth Avenue and Union Square West

Beds in restaurants

Ono Gansevoort Hotel, 9th Avenue and 13th Street

It's not often a dining trend moves up from Miami to New York, but this has. For some reason, New Yorkers have become excited about eating, drinking and networking in bed. The hottest opening, kitted out with divans as well as tables, is Ono. This über-hip restaurant has an outside space replete with two beds. Other places to get horizontal include Highline, and Duvet, which is stocked with 25 beds plus five private bedrooms. Bed, an outpost of the Miami originator, will also be continuing its horizontal offerings.

Second helpings: Highline, Washington Street between Little West 12th and 13th Street; Duvet, 21st Street between 5th and 6th Avenue; Bed, 27th Street and 10th Avenue

Small plates

Share, 9th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A

For a city that likes big portions, it's curious that one of the key trends right now is for small plates of food. Expanding the concept of tapas to every type and form of food, the benefit is that it allows New Yorkers to eat their way through more of the menu than they could manage otherwise. You'll find the small-plate trend all over Manhattan - at Share (seasonal food), Esca (Italian fish), Sumile (Japanese fusion), Amuse (Southwestern) and Snackbar (retro 1970s food).

Second helpings Esca, 43rd Street at 9th Avenue; Snackbar, 17th Street at Sixth Avenue; Amuse, 18th Street at Sixth Avenue; Sumile, 13th Street between Sixth Avenue and Seventh Avenue

Cream puffs

Beard Papa Broadway at 76th Street

Cupcakes have reigned supreme as New Yorkers' sweet treat of choice for many years, but now there's a new kid on the block. This Japanese store opened this year selling what they call cream puffs - essentially choux buns filled to order. The company claims to have a special technique to make the puffs - with a super-thin layer of choux and regular pastry making up the shell. Cooled shells are then filled with the cream of your desire - vanilla or a daily special flavour such as green tea or caramel. Almost as soon as the store opened, queues were forming out of the door for the $1.25 gems. Choux Factory opened in August trying to snag some of the sweet-toothed action.

Second helpings Choux Factory, First Avenue between 48th and 49th