Trend Watch

Trend Watch: Calamansi, fennel pollen, fiddlehead

By Katie Belflower

Another summer is drawing to a close, but the need for boldness and innovation in restaurants never wanes. Keeping up-to-date with the very latest in food and menu trends is a vital part of any chef and restaurant operator’s job.

RestoBiz and Technomic’s latest edition of Trend Watch focuses on three menu trends that are being seen across Canada right now: calamansi, fennel pollen, and fiddlehead.


A tart citrus fruit native to the Philippines, calamansi can serve as a unique replacement for more traditional citrus. This trend aligns with the embrace of more unique global flavours on Canadian menus. The fruit is also high in antioxidants and vitamin C, showing the continued embrace of immunity-boosting ingredients.

Operators are most often featuring calamansi in cocktails and desserts alongside other tropical fruits. 

Menu examples:

  • Botanist in Vancouver, served Exotic Fruits with passion cream, pineapple, mango, calamansi sorbet, and coconut meringue
  • Tamis Cafe in Ottawa, menued a Calamansita with tequila, triple sec, calamansi juice, salt, and lime

Fennel pollen

Operators are using the pollen harvested from wild fennel as a seasoning. It is native to Italy and can be added to virtually any dish to lend a unique flavour of citrus, licorice and honey.

Operators are most often using it in seafood or cheese-heavy entrees.

Menu examples:

  • Bark Koukla in Toronto offered feta with phyllo, sesame, blueberry, and fennel pollen
  • Boulevard in Vancouver served BLVD Clam Chowder with manila clams, Yukon gold potatoes, leeks, dill, and fennel pollen


Operators are featuring fiddlehead — the curled fronds of a young fern — as a side in Canadian entrees. The fronds have a fresh, grassy taste and are high in antioxidants and iron, reflecting the gravitation toward functional ingredients.

Restaurants are spotlighting fiddleheads as a fresh complement to seafood or other spring vegetables.

Menu examples:

  • Saveur in Victoria, B.C. menued Haida Gwaii Halibut with crispy polenta, rapini, nettle veloute, fiddlehead, and pickled tomato
  • The Acorn in Vancouver served asparagus with cavatelli, green garlic, black garlic, ricotta, and fiddleheads

Trend Watch is a regular contribution to RestoBiz based on restaurant and menu trends noted by Technomic Inc.

Katie Belflower is Associate Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.