During the pandemic years, amid plexiglass dividers and relentless home deliveries, our restaurant landscape underwent significant transformations. Today, with dining establishments bustling once again, sans masks, it’s evident how certain traditional elements, like menus, are experiencing a renaissance of sorts, infused with a newfound creativity that’s deeply tied to current trends. Delving into these “revealing time capsules” was The New York Times, through an interactive longform piece aiming to demonstrate how these elements now possess more personality than ever, even amidst the prevalence of QR codes.

Returning to their newsroom, the journalists from the esteemed American newspaper brought back 121 ‘physical’ menus from as many restaurants. Through subsequent analysis, navigating both obvious features and hidden intricacies, they unveiled emerging trends that bind them together.

Certain menu items particularly captured the attention of gastronomic experts. The ‘Caesar Salad’, for instance, remains a staple and has even found favor in venues with strong traditional roots, spanning Eastern, Cuban, or South American cuisines. However, each establishment puts its spin on it by incorporating unique elements. One might even stumble upon variations like miso-infused Caesar Salad, pushing culinary boundaries.

Caviar emerges as another highly sought-after ingredient, appearing ubiquitously and in various guises, to the extent that it might unexpectedly grace the contents of a Mexican quesadilla, as the report suggests. Additionally, there’s a notable surge in the popularity of Yuzu, a typical Japanese citrus, while in the realm of desserts, the robust return of panna cotta steals the spotlight, favored for its simplicity amidst escalating raw material costs.

Moreover, there’s a pronounced resurgence of creativity in non-alcoholic beverages. A plethora of tea varieties, freshly squeezed juices, and elaborate alcohol-free cocktails are gaining traction, often rivaling their alcoholic counterparts in complexity and price point.

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