The modest carrot has been given a red-carpet makeover at Preston's.
Chef Matthew Heaggans, who owns the kitchen that operates inside Three Sheets bar in Columbus' Brewery District, said both funkified and classic preparations of vegetables are going to be big in 2018.
"I like weird vegetables, as well," Heaggans said. "But I really like carrots."
His speciality dish is pastrami carrots. The root vegetables are soaked in a spice brine for at least two days and given a hard sear on the flat-top stove.
They are served with sauerkraut, rye-bread crumbs and mustard-seed aioli.
Heaggans said he expects a general turn toward elegant vegetable dishes, such as pomme fondant (a roasted-potato dish), leeks vinaigrette and vegetable mousses.
He's not alone: Chefs and restaurateurs throughout central Ohio have said they expect a number of trends to surface in the coming year.
Chef Jack Moore Jr. of Watershed Kitchen & Bar near Grandview Heights, takes the veggie perspective a step further. Much like the nose-to-tail movement with pork, he said he sees a root-to-stalk revolution with vegetables.
"That is one trend I think we're going to see continue to climb this year," he said.
A fennel stalk is the perfect example.
"We don't utilize it all on one plate," he said. "Bulbs go to multiple places, and the fronds are used in many things."
Andrew Smith, chef at Rockmill Tavern in the Brewery District, said he sees zero-waste efforts continuing to be a trend in the restaurant business in 2018.
"I think for us, for the tavern, what we always try to do is utilize our waste as much as possible," he said.
For example, vegetable compost is taken to the Rockmill Brewery in Lancaster, which also has a garden, Smith said.
The tavern also serves a bread-and-fat dish in which leftover fat is whipped, seasoned and sprinkled with coarse-ground salt. The fat comes from a variety of sources, such as the chorizo for the chilaquiles and bacon for the bacon-jam burger.
"It's good for us because it forces us to be creative," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Stan Riley said he sees more innovation in barbecue becoming big in 2018.
The owner of Barrel & Boar, with locations in Gahanna and Newark, said he can't take credit for pork-belly burnt ends, but he now serves them.
The smoked pork belly is sliced for candied bacon and, like brisket burnt ends, it is seasoned and smoked again.
"It is something I had heard about and I never had them and I decided to give it a try," Riley said. "And it's fantastic."
As Columbus' barbecue culture expands, Riley said, he is curious to see what his competition is up to.
"I don't see that it's topped off, but I agree there (are) a ton of new restaurants opening right now," he said. "It never gets old as long as it's done well."
On the beverage front, Tommy Gallo, owner of Gallo's Kitchen and Bar near Upper Arlington, said he sees more incorporation of beer in plate preparations and bourbon-and-dish pairings.
But, he said, perhaps the most exciting trend is farmers growing vegetables exclusively for specific restaurants.
"We're getting a lot more access to farmers who want to work directly with us," Gallo said.
On the other hand, Branden Weigel, chef at Forno Kitchen + Bar in the Short North, said the "way people eat, not what they're eating" will be big in 2018.
This year, Corso Ventures, the owner of Forno and other restaurant concepts, will open Food Hall in the Short North.
Food Hall will be a bar with four kitchens, with Corso Ventures' chefs occupying one kitchen and others renting the remaining three.
Corso, for its part, will serve shareables, otherwise known as small plates, in a communal-dining atmosphere.
"I honestly don't think there's going to be that one ingredient (that emerges in 2018)," Weigel said. "I just think people are going to be more aware of how they eat."