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This skimountain restaurant in Vail Colo mixes warm homey ambiance with contemporary aspirations in Alpine cuisine inspired by French Swiss Italian and Rocky Mountain cooking
<p>This ski-mountain restaurant in Vail, Colo. mixes warm, homey ambiance with contemporary aspirations in Alpine cuisine inspired by French, Swiss, Italian and Rocky Mountain cooking.</p>

Trending Tables: 50 hot restaurants for spring 2015

NRN gives foodservice execs a look at some of the most popular eateries across the nation

Steakhouses are perennially popular, but trendy? They are these days, as forward-looking restaurateurs across the country look to reinvent Americans’ favorite dining splurge.

At one of the 50 restaurants in this seasons’ Trending Tables, R.J. and Jerrod Melman, son of legendary restaurateur Richard Melman, are turning heads at RPM steak in Chicago with house-butchered rib-eyes and exquisitely marbled A5 wagyu from Japan.

In Los Angeles, chef Jacques Fiorentino takes a different approach by offering pretty much only a French version of steak at L’Assiette Steak Frites. At M. Wells Steakhouse in New York City, steak is prepared dramatically on a wood-burning grill on display.

Lusca in Atlanta isn’t a steakhouse per se, but it does offer a dry-aged porterhouse that, if guests request it, will be served two ways: the strip side served seared, while the tenderloin side is chopped up and served as traditional steak tartare.

Beef isn’t the only trendy food from Japan these days, Momotaro in Chicago, Kuu in Houston and Pabu in San Francisco all focus on Japanese food. Chinese, Thai and Korean ingredients and techniques are also scattered across the menus in the current class of Trending Tables.

Classic European cuisine remains well represented, with Marta in New York and Trentino in Cleveland focusing exclusively on Italian food. Italian also makes appearances as gnocchi and pizza at The Obstinate Daughter in Charleston; gnudi with smoked mushrooms, ricotta and arugula at Gardner in Austin; as ricotta gnudi with brown butter at The Treemont in Philadelphia and at many other restaurants featured here.

Apart from L’Assiette Steak Frites, Brasserie Gigi offers French food. Gypsy Kitchen in Atlanta is Spanish and Cooks & Soldiers, also in Atlanta, is Basque.

Various iterations of Mexican food are also in play this spring, including upscale tacos at Basico in Charleston, tacos with local and organic fillings in Austin, Southern-inspired Mexican food at Dove’s Luncheonette in Chicago, Korean tacos at the latest version of Kogi, and the creative cuisine of modern-day Mexico City at Cosme in New York City.

Overall, the style of most of the trendiest restaurants these days are markedly casual and playful in their presentation, décor and style, but completely serious when it comes to the techniques in the kitchen.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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