Food fads come and go like other fads. The availability of new ingredients, increased familiarity with different cuisines, the imagination of chefs and restaurateurs, and the simple change in consumer tastes all help shape what the restaurant serves. Each era writes its own menus. These are food fads from the decade you were born in.
Until Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters brought pizza to their hip California restaurants, this beloved Italian specialty was almost never seen far from pizzerias. It is now a restaurant staple, even in white-tablecloth establishments. Twenty years ago, the average American diner had never heard of, let alone tasted, burrata, romesco, kimchi, pork belly or grilled octopus, whereas today it sometimes seems that half of the menus in America list these items.
Similarly, many of the choices available in restaurants in this country in the 20th century may be difficult to find today. Some basics – Caesar salad, fettuccine Alfredo, roast chicken, steak fries, etc. – turned out to be immortal. But when was the last time a patron of a modern restaurant sat down to a meal of consumed Madrid, brook trout amandine and baked Alaskan? (Menu permutations aren’t the only transformations that occur. These are 20 ways restaurants will change.)
Granted, there are still places serving such retro dishes, ironically or not, but they are undeniably an endangered species. Sometimes the raw materials they are based on are also endangered species, such as abalone and snapping turtle. Other times, we’ve become too sophisticated (or think we have) to eat tough old-fashioned dishes like Turkey Tetrazzini or Steak Diane.
Click here to see 25 retro restaurant dishes we may never see again
The almost-dead old menu classics from this list are all worth trying, whether or not you want to incorporate them into your regular diet. If you come across them somewhere, give them a try before they completely disappear.