With 2008 officially behind us, it’s time to look ahead. What will the last year of this decade bring food lovers? Gourmet has drawn up its predictions, touting ice cream as this year’s cupcake and ethnic eats, like Indian or Korean food, as the year’s affordable culinary adventures. But locally, restaurants are waiting before they make specific claims. For now, chefs like Michael Long of Opus Restaurant and Olav Peterson at Bistro One are predicting menus with more familiar ingredients, which demand more creativity from the kitchen.

Peterson, looking for ways to bring comfortable flavors to his menu, is already brainstorming a play on pasta carbonara. And Long plans on finding ways to dress up more affordable cuts of meat (perhaps short ribs instead of tenderloin) and other products, as well as cater to health-conscious eaters, particularly gluten-free diners. “Expect more polenta and cornmeal, and herbs instead of breaded preparations,” Long says. If this is what 2009 brings, eating this year will be a down-to-earth experience. Bring on the meatloaf, and forget the molecular gastronomy.