Dining predictions and trends for 2017

Food & Drink

Throughout 2016 we have seen a plethora of new food outlets open their doors, each adding something new to the city’s dining and cultural offering.

We expect to see more of the same in 2017. Here are More Gold Coast’s predictions for dining and food trends in the coming year…

Coffee, coffee and more coffee

Did you say dining trends? Let’s start with coffee.

While various coffee beans, blends and preparation methods percolated away in 2016, we predict more of the same in 2017. We keep on finding more and more ways to prepare our favourite brew, all in an attempt to extract a flavour that perfectly matches the aroma.

The hottest shot on the Coast emerged in 2016: Hot Shott’s short black in its own edible chocolate-lined waffle cup.

With good cafés tuned in to the dietary requirements of diners, the array of milks and milk substitutes often fills an entire shelf. Some snub milk altogether, with short black becoming a common preference.

Nathan Richards of Social Brew noted this change in the Gold Coast’s coffee habit:

“It’s hard to believe the number of non-milk coffees that are being ordered – short black, long black, as well as piccolos. Then again, we’ve seen this trend overseas so we shouldn’t be surprised.”

Health has also taken a front seat with coffee alternatives such as turmeric lattes and, to a lesser extent, matcha lattes competing against the traditional cuppa.

We’ll see more of these alternatives popping up, but traditional coffee will always remain a favourite brew.

Shake it up

Donuts continue to be a popular item in 2016, with vegan donuts meaning that treats know no borders.

Meanwhile, the queues at Gangster & Gatsby continue to be longer than their crazy shakes are high and the revamped Nonna’s at Harbourtown gives shake decoration a new twist using sweets from the shop next door.

There’s a nostalgic retro feel to crazy shakes which takes us all back to childhood, so expect to see more reinventions of childhood classics in the future.

Classic cocktails have also enjoyed resurgence, with mixologists being some of our restaurateurs’ most prized assets.

A new take on sweet

More and more people are becoming aware of their sugar intake, so it’s mainstream to see alternative natural sugars on coffee shop tables. From dark chocolate with chilli to salt and sour notes, we are also seeing a turn away from cloying sweetness to other flavour spectrums.

Meanwhile, a mix of savoury and sweet is appearing on main menus. It’s evident on Sparrow’s summer menu: scallops with baked figs, saffron cream and maple prosciutto chips – a real ‘gender bender’ between sweet and savoury.

In 2017 we predict to see healthier versions of junk food appearing, as well as versions of favourite dishes to cater for food intolerances, such as Finders Keepers’ quinoa pancakes topped with coconut and maple syrup for brekkie.

From Asia to Europe – it’s flamin’ hot

2016 saw Asian flavours unfurled, albeit for the Aussie palate, branching out step by step into a more extensive range of street food dishes.

From Etsu and Hideaway, the grill produced some of our favourite Asian food, while Kubo’s delivered Filipino flavours we’ve rarely seen on the Coast.

Although don’t think Asia has the monopoly of all things food. Europe is making a comeback with Mediterranean ingredients, flavours and cooking methods sweeping back across the city.

Sustain me

We’ve seen a growth in alternative foods as well as a step towards finding specific foods and spices that relate to preventative health practice.

Food brings sustenance, social interaction and enjoyment. With a renewed focus on a healthy stomach, people are looking for foods that are anti-inflammatory and pro-biotic to promote alkalinity in the body.

We predict the popularity of turmeric, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha will continue in 2017. Meanwhile, fermented food will continue to sneak its way into mainstream dining, Bstow being one of the first to focus on foraging and fermenting.

We are also seeing acknowledgment of ethical practices on menus – including in the fast food industry – with growing awareness and discussion about seafood sourcing and sustainability.

Trucks and Popups

More food vendors have regularly been appearing in parks, markets and street-front properties in 2016, although the move to centralised scheduling through social media or an app is still on the drawing board.

Wanting fast and healthy meals, the time-poor generation is ready to pay the price of convenience with food delivery targeted to their needs.

Deliveroo and Menulog are just two examples of food delivery apps that are revolutionising the dining experience and delivering food straight from your favourite restaurant to your doorstep.

We are also seeing niche producers delivering nutritionally balanced meals on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, popups have made an impact on the food scene in shopping centres. Rather than popups inside regular restaurants, think food carts or stalls selling a single niche product such as gelato or Portuguese tarts.

Food trucks, markets and popups are all legitimate entry points for many small business owners, some moving into bricks and mortar within a year or two, others happy to sell their artisan products without the pressure to expand to a full restaurant menu.

Lifestyle destinations – shopping centres

Perhaps the biggest movement in food trade in 2016 has been the revamping of shopping centre dining.

Far from the introspective centres of less than a decade ago, today shopping centres revisit concepts first introduced by 1950s shopping mall pioneer Victor Gruen, as places where people can gather, stroll and socialise to bring community to the suburb. Food and dining play a crucial part in this reinvention.

Robina Town Centre and Pacific Fair particularly are lifestyle destinations: compelling and welcoming spaces that encourage customers to linger longer and enjoy sophisticated food and beverage offerings as part of a shopping and entertainment experience.

The Kitchens at Robina Town Centre provides a new culinary concept where artisans, chefs, providores, purveyors and food lovers can celebrate the seasonality of fresh and local produce from food retailers, cafés, bars and restaurants.

A sense of place

While relationships and service are crucial to dining success, some of our most successful restaurants – such as Etsu and Hideaway – have embraced a whole concept and run with it in décor, menu and total theming, taking us on an all-encompassing journey.

It’s an observation food guru Chris Lucas noted: “…the meal has become less central. What’s become more central is the entertainment, the overall package, the vibe.”

Expect to see more interactive dining in 2017 and, due to our competitive market, a weeding out of those providers who misjudge the market or fail to reinvent themselves to keep up. After all, the evolution of dining is all about survival of the fittest.

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