The hottest restaurant trends for 2010

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Get ready for more mini cupcakes in 2010.
  • Get ready for more mini cupcakes in 2010.

As 2009 draws to a close, the race to predict big restaurant trends in 2010 has begun.

The National Restaurant Association asked more than 1,800 chefs from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) what they planned to do with their menus next year. The survey results are out, and it should come as no surprise that considerations about portion size and local foods were at the top of the list.

What might be surprising is that a number of Kansas City restaurants appear to be ahead of the latest trends.

Chefs won't just be touting the fact that the produce they serve is local -- they'll be identifying the farm. Consider this an expansion of what restaurants like Justus Drugstore and the Blue Bird Bistro are already doing.

"This is retro -- it's what we did in the past when chefs relied on local markets because we did not have the luxury of today's transportation system. We are going back to our roots and the foundation of our craft that made it more pleasurable," said Michael Ty, president of the ACF.

In addition to local food, you'll likely see more local wine and beer on menus, as well as boutique spirits being made into savory cocktails. Exhibit A: the winning cocktails at the Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition.

Also expected to be popular are a few new cuts of meat, such as Denver steak and pork flat iron, as well as fish such as barramundi and arctic char. 

Portion sizes will matter as people have begun to think about not just what they're eating but how much. So, get ready for mini desserts -- like those at Julian -- and half portions. (Even fast food restaurants seem to be catching on, such as with KFC's new penny-per-calorie promotion: a grilled chicken meal of 395 calories for $3.95.)

If more chefs are using locally sourced products to conceive smaller, budget-friendly meals, that sounds like the right recipe for helping encourage people to eat out often in 2010. 

[Image via Flickr: stringbot]

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