1) American Comfort Food: There were a lot of new restaurant serving "elevated American comfort food" following the onset of the recession, and many of them failed. Now that diners have more money to go out, they seem to be choosing places that offer something satisfying, and out-of-the-ordinary. Perhaps that explains why the two big recent hits in terms of American restaurants are The Dutch and Red Rooster, which offer a number of ethnic soul food dishes, along with fried chicken, burgers and biscuits.
2) "Pies are the New Cupcakes": This trend was DOA when it was first announced by several media outlets last fall. People aren't lining up for pies (unless it's the day before Thanksgiving), they don't debate which bakery or restaurant serves the better slice, and there just aren't that many shops in this city that are devoted to the dessert. Actually it's hard to believe that any sweet treat will every become "the new cupcakes" anytime soon, because New Yorkers have a deep, profound, and at times maniacal love for cupcakes, similar to what a mama grizzly feels for her baby cub.
3) Tiny Menus: Although prix fixes are having a moment these days, a la carte menus with just a few appetizers and entrees, are on the way out. Restaurateurs now want to give diners as many options as possible, on a page full of boxes and sidebars. And the menus seem to be getting physically larger, too: if you go to The Darby, Osteria Morini or Donatella, you will be handed a piece of paper the size of a bath mat.
4) The Gastropub: Actual British gastropubs (of which are there are only a handful in New York) are still very popular, but the trend is most definitely dead in terms of other restauranteurs copying the style and laying claim to the title. These days, it's much trendier to offer "small, shareable plates of locally-sourced seasonal fare and raw bar items" in a dining room full of rustic American ephemera, than to blatantly rip-off The Spotted Pig.
5) Asian Sandwiches: The Asian Sandwich Boom of 2009 is but a faint memory at this point. A few tight operations continue to do really well — Num Pang, Baohaus, Baoguette — but many others have closed. And, thank the lord, banh mi sandwiches have stopped popping up at restaurants that don't serve any other Asian dishes.
6) Tiki: Painkiller, The Hurricane Club, and Lani Kai all opened within a few months of each other last year, and for a moment, it seemed like NYC was on its way to becoming the swizzle stick capital of the world. But the fad died, and New York was left with three and only three new Tiki bars, plus enough hollowed-out pineapples and cocktail umbrellas to last
7) Speakeasies: My Little Secret signaled the end of the trend when it put up an awning announcing itself as a speakeasy (it closed less than a year later). But many other "secret" bars and restaurants also disappeared in the last few years. Maybe undercover operations just don't play these days because there are too many food blogs out there to keep anything a "cool secret" for very long.
8) Discount Fine-Dining: Gone are the Damon Frugal Fridays, the four-star early bird specials, and the Baucus Bail Outs. Two years after the economy tanked, the fine dining world seems to have rebounded to the point where the city's best restaurants don't need to offer truffled mac and cheese, or off-hour discounts to fill some seats (for proof, take a peek at Ryan Sutton's The Price Hike blog). Sadly, restaurants like Matsugen, Chanterelle, and Cru weren't able to make it through the dark times, despite offering these kinds of deals.
9) Growlers: As a general rule, a dining trend is officially dead the moment it's co-opted by Duane Reade. And while there are still a lot of growlers available throughout the city, cans full of local beer are the new hotness. They're much easier to cary, and they don't require a hungover trip back to the beer store the next day to get your deposit back.
10) Old-Timey Dining Rooms: For years, many of the city's hottest new restaurants had dark dining rooms with a bunch of retro junk on the walls, ornate chandeliers, vintage tables and chairs, and maybe a few pieces of choice taxidermy. But now, these kinds of restaurants are starting to look dated, in a different way. New York has officially reached its old-timey dining room saturation point. The hot new restaurant spaces of 2011 are the ones that feel like old-school classics, but that don't blatantly steal from the past. See: The Dutch, Peels, Fedora, The Brooklyn Star. (source:ny.eater.com)