From kale to ramen to fermented food, pop-up restaurants and more, Portland’s culinary trends continue to evolve each year.
So what trends did we see last year and what do we predict will be hot in 2014? Two restaurant critics, Portland Monthly’s Karen Brooks and The Oregonian’s Mike Russell, shared their opinions with us on Think Out Loud.
Here are some highlights of the conversation.
FOOD TRENDS IN 2014
Brooks’ Bet – Year of Desserts
“I think we have [an] interesting baking scene. A lot of women bakers and pastry chefs who are putting a mark on the scene.” The Sugar Cube on NE Alberta and Maurice downtown are among them.
Russell’s Bet – Year of Fried Chicken
“The team behind Laurelhurst Market, the steakhouse on East Burnside, is opening a barbecue restaurant in Sellwood. It’s gonna have a big fried chicken component. … I think Portland in 2014 is poised to be the year of fried chicken.”
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR 2013
Brooks’ Choice - Ava Gene’s, a high-end restaurant on SE Division established by Stumptown Coffee Roasters’ founder Duane Sorenson
“Duane Sorenson reconfigured all the things that Portland loves into a new kind of fine dining … Italian food worship, farm sourcing, great wine, great coffee, great cocktails … and also added things that are often missing from restaurants here, a beautifully designed room, really, really good service.”
Russell’s Choice – Ox, Argentine-inspired grill from chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton on NE MLK
“It was also the restaurant I recommended the most in 2013. In terms of feedback from readers … it was the one that people loved the most from Portland last year.”
MOST SURPRISING EATING EXPERIENCE OF 2013
Brooks’ Choice – Supper Clubs and Pop-Ups
“Some of the best and most ambitious meals of the year were found in supper clubs and pop-ups.” Brooks named pop-up dining chef Will Preisch of Holdfast as “Rising Star Chef of the Year.”
Russell’s Choice – Bollywood Theater on NE Alberta
Russell was a little worried when he heard chef Troy MacLarty ,who had been to India only once, was going to open a restaurant specializing in Indian street food. Still, the Oregonian named Bollywood Theater their “Rising Star Restaurant of the Year.” Russell noted that the Indian American community in Portland and Beaverton embraced the restaurant despite the fact MacLarty is not an Indian chef.
ON EXPANSION OF RESTAURANTS
Brooks and Russell commented on the trend of successful restaurants like Pok Pok, Little Big Burger and Salt & Straw expanding to new locations.
Brooks - “We’re evolving this scene of mini indie chains like Little Burger, Lardo, Bunk. They don’t have the corporate feel of what we think of chains which have a bad name. So there are chains that are merging in a Portland style … On the other hand, I think if you keep cloning places, law of averages says quality often goes down a little bit and creativity goes down.”
Russell - Russell agreed with Brooks, and noted that some chefs who have successful restaurants add additional locations to retain their talented staff. “Opening up a new, a second restaurant, even if it’s very similar to the first one, is a way for them to give a new perch for people who they don’t want to walk out the door.”
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING ABOUT 2014 FOOD TRENDS
Other publications have identified 2014 food trends that include tea leaves in entrées and desserts, cauliflower, the Midwestern food movement, savory pancakes for dinner, Filipino-inspired food and more.
NPR - Eating Tea And Other Food Predictions For 2014
Food Channel - 2014 Top Ten Food Trends
National Restaurant Association - What’s Hot in 2014 Culinary Forecast
Bon Appétit - The Foodist Predicts the Next Big Ingredients in 2014
Food Network - What’s Next in Food Trends for 2014
To hear Think Out Loud’s full conversation with Karen Brooks and Mike Russell, click on the audio link at the top of the page.
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