In lieu of new beginnings, here are seven drinking 'n' dining trends to recycle along with 2012's Christmas tree:
Oh, burger, where art thou?: Once upon a time, onion rings were an avant-garde addition to a burger. Fast-forward to 2012 and fried veggies atop the once working-class staple is tame compared with the likes of fried cheese curds, runny eggs and even all the components of Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, yes, that last one really happened. When I'm craving a burger, nothing is more satisfying than a juicy beef patty, melted cheese and a toasted bun, but I don't expect everyone to echo my purist sentiments—just keep that duck egg away from my sandwich.
Squatting servers: Feet are for standing, and butts are for sitting—so why is a server squatting next to the table taking my order? Besides cozying up in a booth alongside restaurant guests, one of the cheesiest service tactics is for wait staff to pop a squat next to diners' tables. Diners don't want to see inside their server's nostrils; they want a bite to eat. This will be the year of good posture—make it happen, kids!
Pass the red sauce: House-made ketchup needs a new name. It doesn't and never will taste like Heinz. Suck it up, chefs: Your recipe may taste good, but it's no substitute for the smooth red stuff out of a glass bottle.
Beer bacon popsicles: San Diego is arguably the craft-beer capital of the U.S., but that doesn't mean we have to shove it down people's throats. If the addition of craft beer in a recipe truly tastes good, then by all means, pour away. Most of the time, I can't even taste the stuff. And another thing: Bacon flavor in items like ketchup, mayo, cookies and chocolate needs to get out. A big part of bacon's appeal is its crunch; adding it to something wet kills it. Put down the bacon-flavored Kool-Aid in 2013.
Depressing outfits: Brown, weathered pants, a button-down shirt and suspenders were the official bartending uniform of 2012. I know it's ironic to shake and stir exotic drinks clad in Depression-era duds, but it's about as original as the term "craft cocktail" by now. I'll tip big if 2013 sees the resurgence of Hawaiian shirts and low-cut tops.
Doggy style: I know it's cool to tote your rescued pit bull around—I do it, too—but please keep the pups out of food- and beverage-serving businesses. Dog-friendly patios are one thing, but it's just not fair for those who are afraid—or allergic—to confront Fighto in a place where he doesn't belong. Dog owners have some entitlement issues to work through in 2013, and business owners should resolve to stop being accommodating beyond reason.
Pop-ups: Would the pop-up bubble burst, already? I can't believe diners are willing to eat in non-restaurants—sometimes, outside in the cold—for upwards of $100. Ever wonder why so many pop-up chefs don't work in a restaurant? I do.