Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Three Menu Standouts Frico and French onion dip are among some of the menu standouts from Chef Gerry Ludwig’s 2018 trends tour

MV Grab and Go in Los Angeles, “home of the frico taco,” brings melted cheese to a functionally craveable level. Here, frico surrounds a mushroom-feta filling
PHOTO CREDIT: Gerry Ludwig

Frico and French onion dip are among some of the menu standouts from Chef Gerry Ludwig’s 2018 trends tour. See how they’re creating buzz on menus.

The Frico Taco

(See main image above) An ingenious and ridiculously delicious new taco is being served at MV Grab & Go, the fast-casual adjunct to chefs D. Brandon Walker and Jill Davie’s popular Venice, Calif., restaurant Mar Vista. The “Frico Taco” is made by toasting a disc of shredded cheddar cheese in a pan, to which a cracked egg is added. The cheese and egg is topped with a corn tortilla and flipped, which cooks into a taco shell with a crispy layer of cheese encasing a fudgy-yolked egg. The traditional taco fillings on offer are all delicious, but this unique taco carrier completely steals the show.

 

Onion Dip? Seriously?

In Chicago, Split Rail’s French Onion Dip is topped with dollops of trout roe.Gerry Ludwig | Flavor & The Menu

In Chicago, Split Rail’s French Onion Dip is topped with dollops of trout roe.

In a retro resurgence à la pimento cheese, French onion dip has made a prominent return to new menus. It is served as a sharing plate with housemade chips at New York’s Daily Provisions, and with freshly battered onion rings at nearby Cannibal Liquor House.

In Chicago, onion dip is served with roasted dill potato chunks at Clever Rabbit, accompanied by crispy gaufrette potatoes at veg-centric restaurant Daisies, and with thickly cut chips at Marshall’s Landing.

In another example of caviar adding a flavor boost, Zoe Schor, owner and executive chef of Split Rail, tops her French Onion Dip with dollops of trout roe.

At booze-driven deli Slightly Toasted, freshly baked Hearth Bread is accompanied by a trio of dips, including French Onion, Sunflower Seed Pesto, and of course, Pimento Cheese.

 

Sea Buckthorn

Sea buckthorn berries provide an acidic accent to the scallops with corn and chanterelles at Camperdown Elm in Brooklyn, N.Y.Gerry Ludwig | Flavor & The Menu

Sea buckthorn berries provide an acidic accent to the scallops with corn and chanterelles at Camperdown Elm in Brooklyn, N.Y.

While the sea buckthorn berry has been used in supplements and skin creams for many years, only recently has it started to appear as an ingredient on restaurant menus. The Asian-grown berry is marketed as a superfruit that contains high amounts of omega-7 fatty acids, purported to have cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.

We first tasted the juice at the Chicago outpost of micro-chain True Food Kitchen, where it is sold as an astringently sour health shot, and included in several fruit drinks and smoothies.

The Sea Buckthorn and Mango Bowl at ABCV in New York features the juice whipped with macadamia milk and topped with ginger granola and bananas.

The only whole berry we encountered was in a delicious plate of Local Scallops with Corn and Chanterelles at Camperdown Elm in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the berries provided the perfect acidic foil to the mushrooms and cream in the dish.

 


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About The Author

Gerry Ludwig

Chef Gerry Ludwig is a nationally recognized food writer, speaker and trend tracker, and leads the Culinary R&D department for Gordon Food Service, based in Grand Rapids, Mich.