12 Old-Fashioned Restaurant Dishes That Should Make a Comeback, According to Chefs
If your favorite restaurant dishes have disappeared, then you are not alone. Throughout the years, dishes have gone in and out of popularity and restaurants are constantly updating their menus to appeal to and intrigue clientele. For example, trendy avocado toasts and grain bowls now reign supreme, but this was not the case decades ago when old-fashioned meals like meatloaf and pot pie were dominant.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are some delicious old-fashioned dishes that even chefs would love to see make a comeback. We asked twelve chefs which old-school dish they'd love to see on menus again in the future. From iconic sandwiches to nostalgic noshes filled with warming ingredients, here are the 12 old-fashioned restaurant dishes they'd love like to see take center stage on menus again.
Chef de Cuisine Yulissa Acosta, chef at Hearth '61 at Mountain Shadows Resort Scottsdale in Paradise Valley, AZ, mentions beef stroganoff as a "wholesome" dish that they would love to see return to menus.
"It's one of my favorite classic dishes that you don't always see in restaurants unless it's a special," Acosta explains. "It's creamy, the beef is usually very tender, and I find that many high-end restaurants will make their pasta in-house." Acosta describes it as a "simple yet eloquent dish" that is worth ordering when you come across it.
Emmett Burke, of Emmett's and Emmett's on Grove in New York City, thinks that meatloaf is one dish that deserves a comeback. There's no doubt about it—meatloaf may be one of the most classic dishes out there. Considered a staple during the Great Depression and then popularized in the 1950s, meatloaf is a food that seamlessly combines both taste and comfort.
"I like mostaccioli, baby back ribs, meatloaf and patty melts," says Burke. "I grew up eating these dishes so it reminds me of home, and I have fond memories of family-run places that serve dishes like this."
"When I first moved to New York, I had Oysters Rockefeller for the first time," shares Chef Rodrigo Fernandini of Artesano in New York. Oysters Rockefeller, a tasty seafood dish made with half-shell oysters, parsley, and butter, is an old-school favorite that first appeared in the late 1880s at Antoine's in New Orleans.
"It's definitely a classic but not as common as it should be. I love the baked oysters with a rich sauce topped with green herbs and bread crumbs—it's chef's kiss," Fernandini adds.
"Bring back the Beef Wellington!" says Bryan Gorton, Executive Chef at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, AZ. Made using filet steak, puff pastry, and pate, beef wellington is a centuries-old dish that was popularized by Julia Child decades ago.
"We have been working on some renditions of this dish for the Christmas menu at Meritage Urban Tavern," Gorton shares.
If you love the idea of a perfectly-made London broil (with a side of buttery mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables) popping up on more menus, then you are not alone. This classic dish, which first appeared in the 1930s and gained popularity in the 1950s, is one that Chef Jordan Andino of Carriage House in New York City would love to see more of.
"I love the idea of our London broil at Carriage House making a comeback," says Andino. "I think it will bring diners back to a simpler time with a familiar dish that they likely had at home, but not in a restaurant."
"As a huge fan of "A Wrinkle in Time," I'd love to see more liverwurst on menus," says ButcherBox Head Chef, Yankel Polak. Liverwurst, which is a sausage made from liver, is often served on bread with accouterments, such as mustard and pickles, and is especially well-known in North America.
"Yes, it is spam. Yes, it is also charcuterie. Either way, a cream cheese and liverwurst sandwich, something I often imagined eating as a child, is a tea-time throwback I think needs more attention," he adds.
Casseroles, although all the rage in the 1950s, seem to not be listed on many menus today, even though they are delicious and filling. "Cabbage casserole is comfort food at its best," says Senior Sous Chef Angy Dykstra at Carcara at Sheraton Phoenix Downtown in Phoenix, AZ. "It's a warm, creamy, cheesy luxurious dish that is complementary to any entree."
Elizabeth Blau, James Beard Award Nominee and founder and CEO of restaurant development company Blau + Associates, would love to see pot pies, similar to Stouffer's variations of the '70s, have a renaissance.
"We've brought pot pies back at Honey Salt in Las Vegas but with upgraded ingredients like lobster, short ribs, and homemade pie crust," she explains. "We started a Tuesday night special as a trial during our colder months in Las Vegas and they have become so popular we sell out every week," she adds.
Blau shares that older customers gravitate towards the original chicken option, which stirs up feelings of nostalgia, whereas the younger clientele leans toward the lobster or short rib ones.
"What's not to like about Baked Alaska!" says Chef Joann Vaega Buhagiar, Pastry Chef at Harris' Restaurant in San Francisco, CA. "It's a fancy ice cream cake with a silky meringue that's torched to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside—it has a lot of elements all on one dessert plate."
Although not as easy to find as it used to be, Buhagiar shares that Baked Alaska is a timeless dessert that will be in Harris' Restaurant for years to come. "It is a show stopper and by far one of our best sellers," she adds.
"Fish Pie is always a classic," says Scout co-founder Chef Charlotte Langley, "I love how simple, easy, and nourishing it is."
Although fish pie may not be as talked about as it once was, you can still cook up your own at home. If you decide to do so, Langley offers up this helpful piece of advice: "Poach your fish in whole milk with simple, yet bright herbs, like fresh parsley, and some celery," she says. "This is a great way to use up odds and sods from the freezer as well."
She also suggests using starchy golden potatoes for your mash to go on top, and to not skip out on salted butter when you bake the pie.
Monte Cristo Sandwich
"It was my quest during lunch outings for many years, scanning the menu for my pot of gold sandwich, the Monte Cristo," says chef and author Allen Bixby. Bixby explains that the sandwich has evolved over time, but years ago in the Seattle market it appeared as a three-layer sandwich consisting of Swiss cheese, ham, turkey, cheddar, and bread, that was then dipped in an egg wash and cooked on a flat grill.
"It came out as a delicate sandwich with the right amount of sweet savory from the French toast quality of the bread, and the thin meats and cheeses," points out Bixby. "Styled after a Croque Monsieur sandwich available throughout France, the Monte Cristo is a winner."
Shrimp dishes, such as cocktail shrimp, fried shrimp, and shrimp scampi, although all delicious, seem to be harder to find nowadays compared to years ago. "Scampi is a classic that we haven't seen on traditional menus in quite some time," says Sizzlefish Chef Greg Owens.
Often made with shrimp, garlic, butter, white wine, and linguine, shrimp scampi is a delicious dish that was commonly served at old-school restaurants, such as Mama Leone's in New York, decades ago.
If you can't locate a dish of shrimp scampi near you, Chef Owens suggests whipping up your own delicious version at home using Sizzlefish's Key West pink shrimp.