beef tartare

Trend Watch: Miso cocktails, huitlacoche, prickly ash

By Katie Belflower

Our latest edition of Trend Watch with Technomic highlights three menu trends on the rise across Canada right now and looks at how restaurants are successfully adding them to their menus.

Miso cocktails

Operators are featuring miso (the salty fermented soybean paste) in cocktails, alongside citrus fruits or other acidic elements, including vinegar. Spotlighting miso in cocktails reflects a trend of cross-utilization, where operators are using an ingredient from the bar that is more typically found in the kitchen, allowing for creative cocktails without adding SKUs.

Menu examples:

  • Proof in Calgary, Alberta, served the Fortune Teller with Bombay Sapphire, chamomile grappa, lemon juice, grape juice, miso syrup, balsamic vinegar, tonic, and Angostura bitters
  • Boulevard in Vancouver, British Columbia, menued the Paramiso with Toki whiskey, Cointreau, lemon, yuzu, and miso orgeat


Huitlacoche, also known as corn smut, is an edible fungus that grows on the ears of corn. The fungus is a popular delicacy in Central America, with a grey colour and puffy texture, with a woodsy, earthy taste. Huitlacoche is protein-rich, providing a good source of amino acids, making the quirky ingredient functional as well as flavourful. Operators are serving this unique ingredient in Mexican-inspired dishes alongside umami-heavy ingredients such as meats and mushrooms.  

Menu examples:

  • Straight and Marrow in Vancouver, British Columbia, offered Beef Heart Tartare with chimichurri, huitlacoche, cotija cheese, toasted corn, and chile crème fraîche
  • Baro in Toronto served Ravioli Huitlacoche with porcini and portobello mushrooms, parsnip purée, chipotle beech mushrooms, queso fresco, cotija, porcini dashi, and cilantro

Prickly ash

Native to North America, prickly ash is an aromatic shrub with edible berries and bark. The shrub is known for its many medicinal properties, including fever reduction and joint pain relief. Prickly ash has a citrusy, peppery flavour, making it suitable for both sweet and savoury applications. Operators are spotlighting the functional ingredient in desserts, often paired with other tart flavours such as cranberry and yuzu.   

Menu examples:

  • L’Orygine in Quebec City menued Crispy Oat & Cranberry with roasted oat and gorria pepper custard, cranberry chutney and mousse, oat milk, and prickly ash granite
  • Montreal Plaza in Montreal offered Yuzu Fake Truffle with chocolate crumble, sake syrup, prickly ash ice cream, and yuzu gel

Trend Watch is based on menu trends noted by Technomic.

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.

Photo courtesy of Straight & Marrow’s Facebook page.