It has probably happened to many of you: plans are made to meet up with friends for dinner, or just drinks and appetizers, at a local branch of a national chain restaurant. Once you get there and meet up with your friends, you are so excited to see everyone that you do not take the time to look at the menu. When the server comes around, you simply order what you think is your favorite thing on their menu. That is when they explain you ordered something from the local branch of the competing national chain restaurant across the street. Oops.
It is not a hard mistake to make. Walk into any national casual fine dining restaurant today and it is very easy to see how you could be confused. The ultimate irony is that so many of them try to look different by decorating their interiors with local flavor and color, the result being many of them end up looking just the same. If you want to go out for a special night with your friends, do not settle for a place that is trying to look local. Instead, discover a casual fine dining restaurant that truly is.
By stepping out of the same thing that you can find anywhere, you are likely to be stepping into a brand new dining experience. Many chefs and owners who open their own restaurants know that they cannot compete against the deep pockets of a national chain by offering the same menu item and dining specials, because they do not have the same bulk buying options. Instead, they focus on a menu that is different and stands out, one that typically features flavors and food items they grew up with. One of the fastest growing trends in dining out today is a Latin fusion menu.
Chefs are reaching back to the foods their parents and grandparents used to make, and are incorporating those flavors, spices, sauces and other ingredients into creating new menu items that bridge the gap between typical restaurant fare and traditional ethnic cuisine. Instead of being intimidating and full of items people are not familiar with, a menu like this is inviting, helping people feel adventurous enough to try something new without completely leaving their comfort zone.
The added bonus to dining out at a restaurant like this is that, because they cannot afford to buy in bulk, the food that they are using tends to be fresher, locally sourced and healthier for you and the environment. Most kitchens only stock for one or two days at a time, so you know that not only will you be having a meal you cannot find anywhere else, it will be one of the freshest meals you have ever enjoyed.
Jack Terry is a freelance writer who has been covering the food and beverage industry for more than 20 years. http://www.osorioslatinfusion.com