What's hot on the restaurant scene right now?

Cheesy fonts on menus, mascots, no booze and the 'human touch' are all hot trends in hospitality at the moment.

No industry took more of a hit from covid than restaurants and bars.

A lot of them disappeared thanks to the shutdowns, but the pandemic also acted like a catalyst change in the industry; in cases fast-tracking some novel concepts that have redefined the category forever.

Here at home, we recently popped into Cape Town dining hotspot Ramenhead the other night and were delighted with the slick d├ęcor, sumptuous menu options and the non-alcoholic cocktails, that honestly delivered more flavour punch than any traditional cocktail that we've slurped on recently. The whole concept feels fresh and designed to deliver a memorable experience.

Spotting emerging trends further afield, the New York Times has a great piece that tracks trends based on patterns found in 121 restaurant menus from some of their editor's favourite picks.

Caesar salads, fried chicken and Panna Cotta are universally emerging as staple menu items. Smaller establishments are increasingly understanding the value of building their essential brand assets - like using distinct fonts and developing things like mascots - and whole sections of menus are now dedicated to buzz-free drinks and 'zero proof' options for those that have ditched the idea of intentionally poisoning themselves with alcohol.

In Cape Town there certainly appears to be some renewed enthusiasm for the category. For sure the heyday of the early 2000 where All Bar None and The Fez ruled the night are long gone, but brand new exciting (more mature) options are emerging.