Restaurant News & Reviews

Eat ’n’ drink: The local look ahead

Beverage Director Chris Tucker mixes a Yamazaki Mizuwari with a hand-carved ice cube at the Hook & Ladder on S Street in Sacramento.
Beverage Director Chris Tucker mixes a Yamazaki Mizuwari with a hand-carved ice cube at the Hook & Ladder on S Street in Sacramento. Sacramento Bee file

The Food World is chatting with speculation: What trends will heat up and take off in the new year? Could there be another pastry as trendy as the Cronut? Will a fresh new cocktail push the shrub off the bar? Is there a step up from sous vide cooking?

We asked a well-informed local trio for their 2016 forecasts for Sacramento:

Kurt Spataro

Executive chef of the Paragary Restaurant Group

Ugly root veggies: “In an effort to make less-popular vegetables more interesting – (such as) celery root, parsnip, kohlrabi, radish, turnip and obscure greens – chefs will apply more techniques to them, like pickling, fermenting, smoking, charring, compressing and dehydration.”

Made in-house: “Restaurant larders will become more proprietary with hand-crafted and specialty items.”

Spice it up: “There’s a growing interest in Middle Eastern (and African) cuisine. Those flavor profiles and ingredients will find their ways onto almost every menu.”

In the swim: “Wild sources for big fish (halibut, swordfish) are dwindling, so chefs will be willing to introduce new and sustainable species and smaller fish (such as) rockfish, sardines, anchovies and mackerel. Consumers need to be open to them, though Americans don’t like bones, heads or tails. The sand dab is an example of a local fish that’s delicious but challenging to sell.”

Home-grown: “The urban agriculture movement might take hold, with restaurants or entrepreneurs cultivating gardens in vacant lots and backyards (as Paragary’s did in years past). It would be cool if someone came to my back door and said, ‘This is what I’ve got.’ I’m going to support it.”

Up and away: “One thing you can count on is prices rising.”

Chris Tucker

Beverage director of Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co. and Golden Bear

Cheers, ladies: “More women will gravitate to whiskey cocktails. Jameson was the first to crack that huge segment of the market because of the user-friendly flavor profile of its Irish whiskey – slightly sweet, with a hint of chocolate. From there, bourbon is the next most user-friendly. The Bourbon Babes carry the flag locally (”

Vodka and … : “One of the casualties of the craft cocktail movement was vodka (because) everyone was so eager to play with gin, whiskey, amaros and obscure liqueurs. Vodka wasn’t considered cool, but it pays the bills. More vodka cocktails will pop up as bars continue to expand their clientele bases. It’s the spirit of choice for most people just starting out with cocktails.”

Back to basics: “I see the craft cocktail trend plateauing and people turning to more readable cocktail menus with more familiar ingredients. At the same time, consumers will continue to experiment with bizarre new things.”

Beer and wine: “The local craft beer trend will continue as consumers have become more educated about what is being produced. That’s true of the wine side as well, with attention given to Clarksburg and its chenin blancs in particular. The other category that will continue to boom is rosé.”

Whitney Johnson

Interior designer who has worked with some of Sacramento’s top restaurants and bars, including Shady Lady, Hook & Ladder, Fish Face and Kru

The whole package: “Places are focusing on the whole experience, not just the food, the bar or the ambiance. It really is connected throughout. The color palettes on your plate are going to be complemented by the interior design and the lighting. Textures in wallpapers and woods will really speak to the types of food and their presentation.”

Incoming: “As more money comes into Sacramento from San Francisco and New York, it’s important for local restaurants and bars to keep in mind the craft, quality and longevity (of their design). A big wave is going to hit Sacramento, and all these crazy multimillion-dollar places are going to pop up. We’ve done a good job with escalated growth, but we need to gradually raise the bar as the (Golden 1 Center) opens and we get more recognition.”

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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