POLL: What Do You Care About Most When You Eat Out?

A survey of chefs around the country show locally grown ingredients, healthful kids' choices and sustainable fish rank highest among customers.

Restaurants sometimes surprise us with leading-edge cuisine, but owners and chefs know success depends mainly on pleasing the customer.

A new national survey of 2012 menu trends gives high rankings to healthful kids’ meals, regional ingredients and fish that isn't endangered. "Locally sourced meats and seafood" and "locally grown produce" are the top two menu trend choices of nearly 1,800 chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association.

Nutritious children's meals featuring whole grains, vegetables and fruit also will be on more menus, according to the online survey of American Culinary Federation members last fall. Gluten-free selections and more choices for guests with food allergies also ranks prominently among restaurant trends, which are summarized in a news release and detailed in a "What's Hot in 2012," a 13-page report.   

What about you? Vote in the poll below, and tell us what you take into account when going out to a restaurant. Then tell us in the comments area what local restaurants do these things best. 

Mark Whelan January 31, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I rather enjoy locally produced beverages whether they are alcoholic or not and locally grown meat and vegetables is always a plus. Fair pricing, variety and quality grades as well as cuts of meat are what I look for on the menu. Howver, it doesn't matter to me what is on the menu, if the establishment is not clean, the staff is not well trained (courteous, knowlegable, efficient) and the food is not well prepared the dining experience is not enjoyable. A restaraunt with locally grown items, locally butchered meat and tastee beverages and poor service is unlikely to bring me back.
Timothy Rath January 31, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Great comment, Mark, thanks for posting. Have you tried any of the "new" cuts the report mentions? Denver steak, pork flat iron, and Petite Tender — I haven't had any of these ...


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