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The heart of the meal resides at the center of the plate. Sides are prepared to complement it and if you’re in the right restaurant, but past guests come in prepared for their favorite main dish.

In most cases, the main dish is the heartiest or most complex part of the dinner. Chefs who set out with a well-prepared menu will let the preceding courses create anticipation for the main dish. Any courses following the main dish are designed to calm the stomach. Cinnamon tea is a popular digestif.

Locally sourced meats and seafood

The trend in using locally sourced meat, seafood and produce will hopefully continue and increase throughout areas that aren’t already utilizing their local communities.

The Blue Heron in Sunderland, Massachusetts lists the local farms they get their food from on their website. Their site also differentiates between chain restaurants and their use of local farms:

“Whenever possible, we purchase seasonal, sustainably raised, locally and regionally farmed products without the use of antibiotics, hormones and genetically modified ingredients; and limited or no use of herbicides and pesticides. We spend our dollars purchasing from local and regional small farms committed to sustainable farming practices.”

New cuts of meat

Three of the newer cuts of meats listed as trends by Restaurant.com are the Denver steak, pork flat irons and teres major. 

As The New York Times article puts it, the Denver steak “was invented after meat and marketing experts spent more than $1.5 million and five years on the largest study anyone had ever done on the edible anatomy of a steer.”

The final product is a ¾ inch thick cut of meat with similarities to the New York strip.

A pork flat iron is cut with the grain from the shoulder of a pig. It is often considered a bit tougher, particularly with beef animals.

The teres major is a muscle located in the shoulder that yields one of the most-tender filets. The tenderloin is the only cut that’s more tender. The 50 Warren Restaurant in Lowell, Massachusetts offers a grilled version, served with a Caesar salad and fries.

Sustainable seafood

Sustainable seafood considers the natural ecosystem heavily. The fish caught sustainably are either farmed or fished in ways that the long-term well-being of the environment is protected.

Nation’s Restaurant News reported on seven Massachusetts restaurants paying close attention to sustainable seafood consumption. These restaurants include: Blue Ginger, EVOO, Turner Fisheries Restaurant, Lumière, Area Four, Taranta Restaurant and City Landing.

In the article from Nation’s Restaurant News, Ming Tsai, chef-owner of Blue Ginger stated, “I think it’s a huge responsibility as a chef to take care of our sea.”

Non-traditional fish 

The list of popular non-traditional fish is varied, but specifically includes branzino, Arctic char and barramundi.

Branzino is a European sea bass that may also enter fresh or brackish water. This fish is commercially grown in Europe and numerous other countries, including Greece, Turkey, Italy and Spain. According to Wikipedia, more than 120,000 metric tons in 2010.

Siena, an award-winning restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island offering “Tuscan soul food” includes branzino on its menu. This main dish is pan-seared Chilean sea bass, paired with ocean scallops in a creamy scallion sauce.

Half portions or smaller portions for a smaller price

Smaller portions are great for guests; they provide the opportunity to sample different dishes while being shareable. It’s also favorable to offer lower-priced portions.

The Blue Heron has a section of its menu dedicated to small and shared plates, with options including pan-fried oysters, 24 hour bourbon root beer braised beef and artisanal Vermont and Massachusetts cheese plate. The grass-fed beef is locally raised at Shelburne Farms Foxbard Farms, which is paired with Fontina cheese and Riesling caramelized onion jam to make the Blue Heron Burger.

The trends are local and sustainable meats and seafood, with properly sized portions ranking in popularity, too. Are you using local products when possible? Does your menu meet any of these trends? Let us know!

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