Food And Drinks

10 Orlando meals developments we hope will lag behind in 2017


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  • Image collage captured from on-screen Instagram search

  • Hashtag #foodporn, 3:47 p.m. Wednesday, December 27, 2017

In 2016 it was basically impossible to go to a restaurant without wading through braised pork belly, chicken and waffles, avocado on everything, and “fusion” tacos, and 2017 saw a number of overexposed trends we just got enough of had. Here are 10 that we hope will stay here in that dumpster fire of a year. We look forward to what 2018 will bring.

1. Instagram food
Chefs, restaurateurs, marketers – please put an end to this nonsense. Obviously, social media is an essential element in realizing your seat and putting butts in the seats. But creating playful food that looks pretty on Instagram and still tastes like food coloring and sadness isn’t it. We don’t come to your restaurant in Insta, we come to eat. Enough with the “unicorn” and “rainbow” everything. Enough with the excessive milkshakes and bloody marys overflowing with food. Enough.

2. Pickled onions
There were tons of pickles in restaurants in 2016 when the farm-to-table movement hit a fever level. The problem: Correct pickling takes time. Do you know what doesn’t take a long time to pickle and still packs a ton of flavor to enhance foods that otherwise don’t have any? Onions. The 2017 chefs decided that pickled onions – especially red ones – were the biggest side dish in gastronomy: they’re crispy, colorful, and add a pinch of wrinkles to acid-free dishes that are an integral part of a homemade dish. The formula seems perfect, but it’s really a trickle-down taste-nomic. In 2018, let’s focus on improving the taste from the bottom up. Not from top to bottom.

3. Cookie dough cafes
Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but cookie dough isn’t the next Froyo. Wonderland Cookie Dough Co. just opened in Celebration and people have lost their chocolate chips over it. The problem isn’t that scooping cookie dough isn’t a wonderful way to spend 20 minutes channeling your inner tween. The problem is, no one should be eating that much cookie dough in one sitting. Licking the dough spoon or sediment from the mixing bowl is one thing. Sitting down with a tube of Toll House is another.

4. Moscow mules
2016 was Bourbon’s year – every restaurant on the planet had an old-fashioned signature on its cocktail menu. But the Moscow mule, vodka mixed with ginger beer, mint, and lime (like you didn’t know it at the time, right?) Grabbed the you-know-what in 2017. There’s even a restaurant named after the drink that opened earlier this year: the Stubborn Mule in Thornton Park, with a full list of mule varieties. Every cocktail maven has at least two unclean mule cups on his bar cart. Let’s add some love to another classic cocktail in 2018. Tom Collins, anyone?

5. Show vegetables as starch
There’s a time and a place for cauliflower porridge and zoodles. That time and place isn’t on a menu where the average starter is around $ 25. If you are dieting and using these Jedi tricks to avoid feeling deprived while cutting calories, it should be you. Nothing against these green plants, but zucchini and cauliflower are much better true to each other – roasted, sautéed or pickled – not as sad substitutes for potatoes or pasta. They are not your rebound vegetable. Show them a little respect in 2018.

6. “Authentic” upscale Mexican
Restaurateurs responded to Orlando cries for “better Mexican food!” with around 15,000 new Mexican restaurants (not to be confused with new Mexican restaurants, none of which exist). Reyes Mezcaleria, Mesa 21, Chuy’s, Rocco’s Tacos, Antojitos, Uncle Julio’s, and others have gained a loyal following, and many of these places have some stellar dishes. The real problem lies in the authenticity quotient. It’s a good rule that if you have to say you are something, you probably aren’t, and so is these restaurants. Truly great Mexican food can be found in secluded spots like Tortilleria Mexicana on Orange Blossom Trail, Tacos Ameca on Orange Avenue, and Ocoee Taco Company.

7. Matcha everything
It’s time to let go of green tea powder. Starbucks has always made Matcha Lattes. But confectioners and the micro-coffee culture began slowly. Now you can find matcha croissants, matcha bundt cakes, matcha macarons, matcha crème brûlée and much more. Perhaps the allure lies in that light green shade – candies aren’t usually green, are they? If you want to try matcha in the intended form, continue drinking this green tea latte or get a six-pack of Matcha Mochi in one of the Asian supermarkets around Mills 50.

8. Sushi burritos
When food that shouldn’t be hand-held becomes just that, it’s a sign. You have to slow down your life. On your day, take time for a relaxing sushi lunch at one of our excellent Japanese boites in town (kabooki or sushi pop, maybe) instead of rolling nori and rice around the freshest fish and nibbling on it in the car without it to splash with Sriracha. (We saw you do it.) Grocery store sushi has come a long way. So if you are pressed for time, we understand if this is your best option. But leave it at that.

9. “The Chipotle Of …” restaurants
How many times have you referred to a restaurant as the “Chipotle of”? We bet quite a few. Between Olea Mezze Grill (the chipotle of Greek food), Hubbly Bubbly (the chipotle of Lebanese food), Spoleto (the chipotle of Italian food) and others – we’re almost done. It’s true that Chipotle revolutionized or even invented the concept of fast-casual, but maybe we can do better than the assembly line lunch restaurants in 2018.

10. Poke
It seems like yesterday the first bump popped up in our city straight from the boat from Aloha State. But between the plethora of poke shops that will debut or stand in the area, we’ve reached a critical point. Big Kahuna’s and Da Kine paved the way for Poke in Orlando, but now Ono Poke, Lemon Shark and others have taken the idea and made Poke so popular there is no turning back from tuna. Boba quickly even has a poke counter (dare we say the chipotle of poke). Poke is a seemingly simple preparation, but the reality is that it took Hawaiians centuries to achieve poke perfection. Let’s cherish the island appetizer but not take it for granted just because it doesn’t require cooking.


Janet Smith