As we anticipate all the new food trends of 2018, we asked Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan: What trend is overdue to die?
Now that you mention it, there are a few things I believe I’m done with. Hmm, let’s see …
- Menus broken up into five different à la carte categories. These free-spirited, run-on menus can offer everything from “snacks” to “smalls” to “in-betweens” to “hefty plates” to “from our garden” to “whole animals for the table.” I get it. The appetizer/entree format of yore is dead. People like to customize their dining experience. But as a dedicated reporter compelled to try everything, these menus mean I’m both eating more and spending more. (Which, of course, is the point!)
- Disposable table wipes. With the demise of linens, an odious new generation of bare-table-cleaning technology has appeared. Nothing is worse than a server spritzing the next table over with Windex. But a dreaded new disposable product I’ve been seeing a lot of lately that looks far too much like a diaper wipe is pretty close.
- Thai rolled ice cream. Never got this trend, which replaced FroYo as the chilly dessert du jour. I’ve never had one that wasn’t either gummy or so cold it made my teeth numb just to take a bite. Mmm. Fun!
- Over-hopped IPAs. The bitter-bomb IPA is still one of the leading categories in the so-called craft beer movement, but I’ve never appreciated the tooth enamel-stripping bitterness of an artlessly made West Coast IPA. More is not always more. Thankfully, I’m glad to say the softer, hazy, more aromatic New England style is coming to the rescue. Those dank and juicy brews have me back in love with hops.
Wood-fired Neapolitan pizzerias. The first few great ones were a revelation. But these days, it seems like every new neighborhood restaurant opens with a flame-throwing dome-shaped hearth imported from Italy. As a result, a great trend has been watered down with too many bad, soggy, overdone pretenders defeating the minimalist pleasure of a properly done, puffy crusted Margherita. I am intrigued by the variety of the newer wave of square Roman-style taglio pizzas (Rione, Alice) and deeper-dish “Detroit-style” pies like the ones being made by Pizza Gutt at its regular pop-up in the W/N W/N Coffee Bar. But it’s a polarizing style around here, even in my house, where anything square or thicker than a quarter-inch makes the native Philadelphians at my table smugly unhappy. As a Midwesterner raised on that style, I find it a comforting taste of home. So we agreed to disagree. You can take the boy out of Detroit, but you can’t take a love of Detroit pizza out of the boy.