Eating out is no longer a treat. To many, it is a convenient way of life.
With 2010 at an end, the metro saw a whole host of trends and fads roll through local eateries. Sometimes that trend has staying power, and sometimes it doesn’t. Many restaurants that monkey around too much with fads and stunts might not see their first anniversary.
But that doesn’t mean trying new things is bad. Inventive chefs are concocting foams and emulsions; and beef fat is fueling the Heartland Flyer. There are chefs who hold down the fire so nothing is cooked over 105 degrees. And our food is getting flashier and more authoritative in local restaurants.
Takeout food has taken off, and with it, on-the-go taco trucks. Hungry diners are using Twitter to find food trucks out and about, such as with the mobile version of Big Truck Tacos, 530 N.W. 23rd. One must-try menu item for the adventurous is the 5th Amendment, where the chefs plead the Fifth and are not at liberty to tell guests just what kind of taco they’ve prepared. The ingredients are later revealed on Facebook and Twitter. BTT takes high honors for serving cuisine that is growing in complexity and sophistication.
Chef Andrew Black, just 37, heads the enormous culinary staff at the Park Avenue Grill inside the Skirvin, 1 Park Ave. Looking ahead, he sees the cuisines of 2011 as sexy and deconstructed.
“Chefs are taking a traditional dish and twisting it so you are getting the entire dish in parts, and then it leads back to original in different ways,” Black said.
Local restaurateur Joe Jungmann (co-owner at Hefner Grill, Paseo Grill, Sauced and The Whole Enchilada) sees a nice trend with Oklahomans leaning toward more seafood, including crab legs and lobster, which he says are now in great demand.
“Mixologists are hitting Oklahoma, too, and two examples are Scott Glidewell, in my organization, and Kyle Fleischfresser of Ludivine, who have stepped this up,” Jungmann said. “(Right now) Glidewell has a good eggnog rum-based drink that is called ‘Naughty and Nice.’” At Bolero Spanish Grill & Tapas Bar, 200 S. Oklahoma in Bricktown, Anna Levy, director of marketing, said Oklahomans are really big on the “next big thing” and rush out to try all of the hot new spots, such as Ludivine and Republic.
“At first, you couldn’t even get into those places, but I like that people here are supporting local farmers and businesses. And with tapas at Bolero and sushi and small plates, eating becomes a social experience,” Levy said.
It’s not just the small plates that Levy mentioned that is growing in popularity in the metro (Can we say “Yay!” to the possible end of huge portions?), but chefs who support local farmers translates to fresher ingredients. And that sentiment has even carried over into urban gardening, with residents growing their own herbs and vegetables.
Conviviality was a highlight of progressive dinners in the past. For many years, I was involved with dining events where people bid very high at nonprofit fundraisers for a chance to pile into a limo for an evening and visit four or five restaurants sampling separate courses throughout the night.
This was a trend that passed long ago, but 2011 might be the year it gets revived, as so many trends do.
Whether sharing small plates or seafood, there is certainly a lot to look forward to in this new year.