Our PR Account Director aka ‘our roving reporter’ on a tour in California, informs us about a number of eating out trends that are currently prevalent stateside.
1. Simple menus
Whist the trend in UK pub restaurants and also American food chains such as Denny’s is geared toward densely populated menus, many of the establishments I ventured into focused on a ‘less is more’ approach and I don’t just mean those falling in the Fast Casual bracket – even those with a posh menu too. Hache LA, based in Silver Lake has a minimal menu focusing on burgers as the staple element and a build-your-own ethos. Whilst the ever popular In and Out burger is based on a few simple options but with a premise on fresh fast food plastered all over its serving trays. Often when venturing out to eat, an indecisive food lover like me can take an age to decide and the focus on quality rather than quantity was definitely a plus.
2. Self serve
Everyone here surprisingly can be trusted to clear away their mess after themselves in a restaurant! The customer is not only in control of customising their order but also clearing away after themselves… what a revelation.
3. Free from
Trying to eat in British restaurants when you are gluten free is a nightmare, however in LA it’s a truly different story. Take the Venice Ale House, you can have any order with gluten free bread or you can even order totally vegan meals. Even Starbucks offers more options for those that can’t tolerate dairy. Fancy coconut milk in your mocha frappacino?
4. Smoothies and juices
It seems America is a society of two halves. The junk fiends and the health freaks. However for those of us that like balance, our diets can now be supplemented by a vitamin kick in the form of a smoothie or juice. This has reached the mainstream in the US with even places like McDonalds getting in on the action. Starbucks has also just launched a new range here and you an even add in a helping of protein if you fancy.
5. Ale choice
The choice here well exceeds the UK for obvious reasons but what surprises me more is that even if a place has a relatively small food menu they still have a least 4 good ales to choose from. Plus it’s always in branded glassware, bravo. 6. Local provenance – even the local coffee shops here are boasting about their own in-house concoctions, with Syd’s in Lake Tahoe offering me salsa instead of ketchup with my bagel because it was homemade and ‘way healthier’. While Sierra Nevada Brewery is serving steaks in its tap house using cows they’ve reared and fed on the ruminants of its brews. The feel good factor is really ramping up here with notes on menus about where items are sourced and the business’s social standing in the community eg. Does it donate profits to a local charity?