Food: constant but transient, both necessity and luxury, a pleasure and a curse. Food trends have the ability to sweep across a nation, capturing the zeitgeist in a flurry of prawn cocktails and deep fried Mars bars, but more often than not they fade into obscurity and obesity statistics.

What does the future hold for Scotland, then, in an age of proliferating hipsters and ubiquitous fad diets? Food research and consultancy firm Technomic have done the hard work for us, analysing the U.K. market to identify the top five trends predicted to impact upon restaurants over the next year.

Trend One: Fast-casual Fever

In the mood for quality ingredients without the faff of formal dining? Fast-casual is for you. A form of dining where high quality food is served without full table service has its roots in the United States but began to take hold in Scotland from around 2011.

Martha’s, of St Vincent Street in Glasgow, was something of a trendsetter, serving up a seasonal menu of local ingredients which “reflects the diverse taste of cosmopolitan city life”. Still going strong, customers can pick up favourites such as the Ki-Nwa salad (beetroot, cucumber, quinoa and radish) or a Red Dragon Flatbread Wrap with Scotch pork, sesame, chili and ginger.

Fresh, healthy take away from Martha's. Picture: Martha's

Fresh, healthy take away from Martha’s. Picture: Martha’s

Pinto’s Mexican take on fast-casual dining was so successful from their George Street outlet that they’ve now expanded to a further two sites in Glasgow, while the opening this year of Five Guys, a no frills American diner-style burger joint, in Edinburgh has been greeted with open arms and rapacious stomachs. Expect more diner-come-takeaways near you as Scotland continues to embrace brisk bites.

Trend Two: Global Hybrids

Fed up with the confines of cultural culinary taboo, chefs are increasingly looking to fuse cuisines from across the globe to create novel and daring dishes. Ingredients and cooking techniques from across the Middle East, South America and Southeast Asia will re-energise more traditional dishes as menus become more diverse to reflect a changing demographic.

Hybrid cuisine is nothing new to the residents of St Andrews, who for years could feast upon a Thai incarnation of a traditional haggis recipe at Nahm-Jim. Receiving high praise from no less than Gordon Ramsay, the restaurant flew the flag for fusion food in Scotland before going bust last year.

Dragon-i in Glasgow remain ahead of the curve in this department, however, utilising the best of Scotland’s natural pantry to create contemporary Cantonese, Malaysian and Thai dishes.

While new eatery Bó Kantina has made a huge success of combining Korean cuisine with Mexican street food to great effect.

Bo Kantina

Picture: Bo Kantina

Trend Three: Veggie Takeover

While vegetarianism is hardly a bold new concept, researchers at Technomic anticipate a surge in the popularity of vegetarian dishes, with superfoods such as kale, goji berries, chia seeds and quinoa muscling their way onto the table at the expense of more meat-heavy options.

In this department Scotland can truly consider itself to be well ahead of schedule, already boasting a raft of vegetarian restaurants renowned for their quality. In the heart of Glasgow’s local music scene Stereo, Mono and 13th Note are all equally famed for their innovative vegetarian menus as well as the quality of their live acts.

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Aberdeen’s Books and Beans restaurant similarly combines cuisine with culture, while the Riverdale Organic Cafe in Inverness even offers a range of holistic therapies to accompany your vegan needs.

Edinburgh is similarly well-catered for, with city staples Hendersons and David Bann’s catering for the capital’s green brigade.

Trend Four: Off the Clock

As modern society edges towards a 24 hour lifestyle, eating habits are set to change dramatically, according to Technomic. Out go the traditional three meals a day and in comes a more on-the-go grazing approach for diners, with snacks and bar bites sustaining busy city-goers after hours. Grab-and-go platforms are also due to benefit from this departure from sit-in dining.

An unlikely candidate for a dining pioneer, Menzies Hotel chain launched a grab-and-go breakfast bag as early as 2011, allowing guests to choose from 114 items to snaffle without the hanging about.

Edinburgh’s Oink, specialising in hog spit-roasts cooked in store, has been dishing out pork buns for those on the move since opening its first site in 2008, while even Scotmid has been getting in on the action recently, serving a selection of sandwiches, salad pots and porridges made to order with fresh ingredients.

Trend Five: Potent Potables

With the ever expanding maelstrom of taste that consumers have at their mercy, a desire for deeper, richer and more complex flavour profiles is going to drive drinking habits in particular next year. The increased popularity in strong, malty craft beers is a precursor for bolder flavours across the dining table, with robust coffee brews and pungent ales set to entice an emboldened market.

Ushers in Edinburgh serve up an array of punchy ales for the adventurous of palate, with the Rodenbach sour beer certain to challenge the tastebuds of even the most experienced craft connoisseur.

On the subject of strong flavours, BrewDog’s release of their ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin’ beer will not have gone unnoticed in 2009, breaking an ABV world record at a brutal 32%. Not for the designated driver or the faint of heart. Not content with that, their 2010 effort ‘End of History’ was both the strongest and most expensive beer in history, measuring a terrifying 55% ABV – a snip at just over £500 a 330cl bottle. Best nipping off to the toilet on that particular round.

'End of History'. Picture: Brewdog

‘End of History’. Picture: Brewdog

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Eddie Nisbet

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