"Restaurants are redefining 'value' on the menu - moving away from the cost savings that were so important earlier this year to incorporate high-quality ingredients, classic flavor combinations and authentic, old-fashioned preparations," summed up Mintel Menu Insights analyst Maria Caranfa.
Next year's five big restaurant menu trends, according to Mintel:
* Classically simple recipe combinations and simple, pure ingredients.
* Restaurant-grown touches such as artisan breads and cheeses, house-infused spirits, locally sourced produce and meats, and "rustic" offerings such as imperfectly shaped pizza and mashed potatoes.
* "Dining out at home" by buying restaurant chain-licensed items in stores and using iPhone apps for ordering or seeing what's changed on a menu.
* An even greater emphasis on offering tasty but good-for-you food and beverages, especially items containing fiber, omega-3 and antioxidants.
* Ethnic foods from specific regions, such as Tuscany, Brazil, Morocco, or parts of the U.S.,
as novel alternatives to mainstream Chinese, Mexican and Italian.--Karlene Lukovitz