Quality will be topping the menus of restaurants around the United States as restaurateurs focus less on price but more on value, according to market research firm Mintel. Restaurants will be working more to deliver classic flavor combinations and authentic, old-fashioned preparations with quality ingredients, according to Mintel's Menu Insight, the company's yearly forecast for upcoming menu trends.
Classic combinations and simple and pure ingredients could mean more emphasis on such all-American classics as the burger, which is already the most popular item in chain restaurants. But bacon, lobster, classic cocktails and milk and cookies and donut-hole desserts will also provide opportunity for nostalgic indulgence.
Chefs will feature more "restaurant-grown" fare - their version of the increasingly popular homegrown trend developing over the last several years. Handmade breads, artisan cheeses, house-infused spirits and local produce and meat will be increasingly on offer, the report predicts. The new buzzword in food preparation will be "rustic," likely to be found in the form of irregularly shaped pizzas or mashed potatoes.
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Restaurants will target customers in alternate venues. More fast food chains like Burger King will serve up their items in new settings like retail stores. iPhone apps with restaurants' updated menu information and online ordering options will provide new platforms to lure diners.
The majority of consumers surveyed feel that restaurants don't offer enough healthy fare and that they are increasingly concerned with healthy diets. Following a general trend of healthier eating, good-for-you food and drink will be showing up more on menus. Meals will feature both flavor and nutritional appeal, like fiber, omega-3 vitamins and antioxidants.
As Mexican, Chinese and Italian cuisines become part of the culinary mainstream, specific regions will be getting more attention, like Tuscany, or North Carolina for its barbecue. And the foods of Brazil and Morocco will enter the spotlight more.