Vegetables and grains looking to beat beef in 2017

Melody Baetens

According to local and national experts, caviar, cauliflower and the ancient cereal grain sorghum will be trending in pots and on plates in 2017.

The American restaurant world will also see more French food, reports the James Beard Foundation, which lists this as number one on its list of food trends for 2017. This is good news for local restaurants like Antietam (1428 Gratiot, Detroit), Cuisine (670 Lothrop, Detroit) and Marais (17051 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe), which also serve French cuisine.

In that vein, classic and fine-dining restaurants will continue to adapt to compete with the new wave of businesses that focus less on white tablecloths and more on farm-to-table cuisine.

Marais’ chef David Gilbert says he opened Marais Café in the restaurant’s bar area to serve French pastries, crepes, quiche and coffee in the morning.

“Marais Café is a great way to be able to experience what we do at Marais at a much lower price point,” he said, adding that the Grosse Pointe spot plans to expand on a weekend farmers market that was started outside the restaurant this year, which included to-go rotisserie chickens and ducks.

“I think we’re going to see more of this type of expansion beyond traditional fine dining from many of our biggest names in haute cuisine. The demand is there from what we’ve seen.”

Pat Liebler of the Liebler Group, which represents and operates out of the Whitney (4421 Woodward, Detroit) says they are noticing guests getting more adventurous, “but not too adventurous.”

“We’ve noticed a trend away from buffets for fine dining,” he said. “Guests seem to want to try more interesting things on their own.”

Liebler added that some classic dishes like steak tartare are being well-received.

While steak tartare was popular in 2016 and will continue to be in 2017 — it’s currently on the menu everywhere from upscale Grey Ghost (47 Watson, Detroit) to the more casual Morrie (511 S. Main, Royal Oak) — the consumption of red meat continues to dwindle.

According to the James Beard Foundation, chefs at the Beard House are using beef less and less. More sustainable game like duck, lamb and venison are stepping in. Food Business News also points to goat as the next big thing because it is low in fat and high in protein, and it’s already a regular staple elsewhere in the world.

Marc Djozlija, chef and partner at Wright & Co. (1500 Woodward, Detroit) agrees that menus will trend away from meat.

“I think in 2017 you will see more vegetarian and vegan selections on the menu,” he said. “The client base is there and they are asking for options on a regular basis.”

Part of this is the influx of even more cauliflower. It’ll be on menus roasted, fried or used as a substitute for other foods like rice or chicken wings. (The Hard Rock Cafe, 45 Monroe in Detroit, has vegetarian Buffalo wings and a vegetarian burger made with cauliflower.)

As the quinoa craze starts to calm down, food experts are pointing to sorghum as the new grain darling. The chewy grain is similar to Israeli couscous. The Beard Foundation describes it as “satisfying to eat –— and slightly sweet” and says it is likely to become the new popular gluten-free, ancient grain. The National Restaurant Association agrees and also points to another ancient grain, amaranth, spelt (a wheat species) and farrow.

Other items or concepts that are likely to be a big deal in restaurants in 2017: fermented vegetables, house-made condiments and charcuterie, African cuisine, sustainable seafood and healthier kids’ meals.

Nation’s Restaurant News says caviar is making a return, too, and we’re already starting to see that in Detroit. Downtown’s new Bad Luck Bar (1218 Griswold) offers an $28 cocktail that comes with a scoop of caviar for $12. It’s also been spotted on menus at London Chop House (155 W. Congress) and Iridescense (2901 Grand River, Detroit).

The verdict is still out on bowls. Rice bowls, poké bowls, acai bowls were big in 2016. Forbes writer Eustacia Huen and the folks at Huffington Post say they’re still trending, but the chefs at James Beard have bowl fatigue and claim to be over it.

One food that culinary experts agree is definitely over is truffle oil. Acclaimed chefs from Gordon Ramsay to Jean-Georges Vongerichten have declared it public enemy number one due to the fact that it’s not actually made with truffles.

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Twitter: @melodybaetens