Two trends in one: sourdough and a wooden board. Photo: YelenaYemchuk
You can buy these things at McCafe now. Surely that’s a sign that they’ve jumped the shark. And can we please stop wildly experimenting with flavours for the macarons? At one stage you couldn’t go anywhere without a crazy macaron flavour coming at you. Red velvet? Sage and lemon myrtle? Peanut butter? Lavender and mushroom? Steak and kidney pie? The possibilities are endless. They're cutesy, they're pastel, they're over. Macarons were the new cupcakes and thankfully they are now going the way of the cupcake.
Sourdough for Everything
Retro Americana burger basket.
Let’s be clear. There’s a place for sourdough, and there’s nothing quite as satisfying as its chewy texture, or its deliciously deep flavour. But it’s not the universal bread. Using it anywhere and everywhere on a brunch menu is just cruel. If it’s toasted badly it just goes rock hard rather than crisp. And it just doesn’t work with some sweet dishes - French toast sourdough is the ultimate indignity.
I’ve written before in a restaurant review about how we might be reaching peak salted caramel in Canberra and possibly other cities. It’s turning out to be one of our most prolific dessert flavours, and is a regular on menus across the city. It’s delicious but maybe a little too ubiquitous.
Macarons in teacups
Serving things on boards
There are two offenders in this category: the slate board and the wooden board. The slate board can never be moved once it's set down on the table. The wooden board is basically a vessel for crumbs to tumble into your lap. Somehow all the restaurants that serve dishes on boards also have tiny low tables so there’s never enough room on the table, causing a mini crumb avalanche every time you try to move the board. And jus or sauce just runs right off the edge.
Drinks in mason jars.
The craze for pseudo-retro American Southern food means that every hip bar and restaurant must dole out burgers, hot dogs or serves of pulled pork on cutesy baskets lined with grease proof paper. It’s like whole swathes of Australia have been overcome with the fantasy that they’re characters from Fried Green Tomatoes or Hart of Dixie.
Drinks in mason jars
The second favourite drinking vessel of the hipster (whole coconuts are surely number one). But mason jars are so popular and so overused – for everything from artisanal milkshakes to salted caramel cocktails – that any drinks served in them now looks cliche. Even water.
Sauces smeared and dotted.
Milk crates and other non-chairs
It might look cool but it’s just uncomfortable to perch on a little crate at a child-size table, sipping a latte. We’re not three years old. Let’s get chairs.
The sauce swoosh
Some time in the not-too-distant future we'll look back at restaurant photos and Instagrammed food porn and be able to date the photos by the swoosh of sauce or the dots of jus scattered over the plates. Those smears of sauce and precisely piped dots (which are never enough to fully complement your dish, either) have reached tipping point. Even David Chang thinks it's over.
Who was the first person to put the sauce swoosh / schmear on the plate? Let's decide on an expiration date for it.— Dave Chang (@davidchang) January 12, 2014
Using quinoa in strangely inappropriate dishes
The so-called superfood is great in salads and in place of rice - less so in burgers. But enthusiasm for the South American grain means you can find questionable recipes for quinoa burger patties, quinoa carrot breakfast cookies and other oddball though probably healthy dishes. You’ll even find a surreal quinoa cooking video on Youtube from mysterious film director David Lynch (though his recipe is a pretty standard quinoa and broccoli dish).