The 2022 Sonoma County Food Forecast – Sonoma Magazine
Gazing into the crystal ball to predict what we’ll be eating and drinking in the coming year is always one of my favorite stories to write as the new year approaches. It’s a combination of guesswork, wishful thinking and piecing together the breakout ideas of the previous 12 months that have gained traction.
During the pandemic, however, there have been few straight answers, though more frequent shifts that have moved the entire food industry in new directions.
Here are some of the innovations I predict will continue in 2022, finding new audiences or becoming significant trends for Sonoma County eaters.
Plant-based everything: If you’re still calling a plant-based diet vegetarianism, catch up. Reducing meat, dairy and egg consumption has gone mainstream, and most of us already have tried meatless burgers, Meatless Mondays and increasingly creative meatless dishes at restaurants that are less about “going without” and more about enjoying without.
We’ll see a continued explosion of alternatives for grocery staples (egg-less “eggs,” meatless frozen entrees, jackfruit everything) as well as chefs adding even more meatless menu items as demand grows.
Santa Rosa’s Cozy Plum Bistro (1899 Mendocino Ave., 707-526-3333, cozyplum.com) has created a comforting, approachable menu with dishes like “loaded tots,” crispy tater tots with taco “meat” made with soy, nondairy cheese, cashew sour cream and pico de gallo; and Philly cheesesteak with meatless steak, peppers, onions and a vegan herb cheese sauce. Little Saint is a plant-based restaurant slated to open in Healdsburg in February. Branch Line, another meatless eatery, opens in Railroad Square this spring.
Restaurants open fewer days: Staffing issues have forced restaurants to rethink their hours. Restaurateurs simply can’t afford to stay open on a sleepy Wednesday afternoon or a ghostly Monday night. Instead, they’ll only open during peak times.
After struggling to find back-of-house workers, John Ash & Co. at Vintner’s Inn and Resort recently announced they’ll be closed two days a week. Reservations are becoming required more often everywhere, and you may be directed to reservation apps like Tock that require you to enter a credit card number with your reservation. That way, if you don’t show up, you might have to pay a hefty fee, which discourages no-shows that dent restaurants’ bottom lines.
Diversified business models: Restaurants aren’t simply restaurants anymore. They sell pantry items, kitchen goods and lifestyle home goods, too, to bring in more revenue. Stockhome (220 Western Ave, Petaluma, 707-981-8511, stockhomepetaluma.com) sells Swedish candies and home goods along with jewelry, clothing and other locally made products. Franchetti’s Gasthaus (1229 N. Dutton Ave., …….