In line with the James Beard Foundation naming French cuisine one of the hottest forecasted trends for 2017, French foods, beverages and concepts have been making waves. With tourism up 10.2% in France (from Q2 2016 to Q2 2017, according to Insee) and this month's announcement of Paris as the 2024 Summer Olympics host city, we can expect further spotlight on la grande cuisine. Here are four ways French fare has been making moves.
1. French specialties grow in indies
A number of classic French ingredients and foods are making their way onto even non-French restaurant menus. Not only are French desserts en vogue, but sauces like gribiche, sauce ravigote and sauce vierge have popped up in numerous indies. Seattle’s Union Saloon, a neighborhood pub that opened this summer, serves a $10 Green Bean Gribiche with fingerling potatoes and cured egg yolk. Also trending are gougeres, rustic cheese puffs that fit into the snacking trend. Daily Provisions in New York City serves numerous breakfast-inspired gougeres, while Spoke Wine Bar in Somerville, Mass., menus gougeres stuffed with chickpeas.
2. New concepts pop up
Numerous French bistros opened to no shortage of fanfare this summer. Chef Michael Mina opened Petit Margeaux (a patisserie) in June followed by Margeaux Brasserie (a full-service restaurant) in July at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago. It’s a “tribute to Paris in the 1920s,” per general manager Jose Gonzalez. Also in Chicago, upscale French concept Pearl Brasserie debuted this month. Menu items include French classics like foie gras three ways and the French 75 cocktail (made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar). Speaking of, French 75—a new concept by restaurateur Frank Bonanno—opened in Denver in July. The casual French bistro menus steak frites, escargots and other traditional bistro plates.
3. Cheesy items go mainstream
French fare isn’t flourishing solely in independent restaurants. Some ingredients and dishes are also growing in chains. Mentions of Gruyere, for example, are up 29.4% among Top 250 chains, while croque monsieurs/madames are up 8.8% overall, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, powered by Ignite. First Watch recently launched a limited-time croque madame featuring smoked ham, tomato, Gruyere and Dijonnaise on grilled brioche, topped with bechamel, herbs and two eggs.
4. French cocktails gain ground
French cocktails are also finding growth on chain menus. Mentions of the French Martini—which typically combines vodka, raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice—are up 25% on menus year over year, per MenuMonitor. Chains from McCormick & Schmick’s to Eddie Merlot’s menu them, the latter of which recently launched a spiced version with the addition of ginger liqueur. Absinthe mentions are also growing on menus—11.1% compared to the same quarter of 2016. Pappadeaux’s recently launched Sazerac combines rye, absinthe and bitters.