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How menus are capitalizing on the ethnic-dips trend

Dips, spreads and dressings are star performers in the bold, complex and authentic flavor profiles popular today. They shine as accents on small plates and snacks and elevate finger foods and baked goods as custom accompaniments.

In fact, ethnic dips, such as hummus, tabboluleh, baba ganoush and tzatziki, ranked among the top-five trendiest appetizers in the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast.

In their own dining trends roundup, restaurant consultants Baum + Whiteman predicted “more chef-driven spreads to enliven a meal” in 2014, including creative schmears for bread boards such as whipped chicken liver butter and smoked ricotta.

Dressings, for their part, are sporting more complex flavor profiles to complement robust, protein-topped salads. Some chefs run riffs on classic vinaigrette to enliven appetizers, entrees and side dishes.

The Greenhouse Tavern
Cleveland 
Warm Bread & Butter Board: a selection of house jams, conserves, yogurt, spreads, shmears, dips, butters and rendered fatty animal love, served with grilled bread, pane d’epi, house crackers and country bread; $15

Park Tavern
San Francisco
Fried Sunchokes with creamy harissa and lemon zest; $9, SEATTLE

Joule
Seattle
Octopus with bok choy, hot bacon vinaigrette; $17

Stillwater Grill
Brighton, Mich.
Pacific Rim Salmon Salad: Grilled salmon, bleu cheese crumbles, grilled red peppers, candied pecans and fresh strawberries over mixed greens, pineapple coconut vinaigrette; $17

Cured
San Antonio, Texas
Beer Can Mussels with housemade tasso ham, whipped aioli, fries; $23

Red Fish Grill
New Orleans
RFG House Salad: Hearts of romaine, crumbled Stilton, local tomatoes, red onions, roasted pecans, apple–rosemary vinaigrette; $7

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