Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Menu Trends

Lent’s Momentum

What better springboard for seafood innovation than Lent? Seafood consumption up, and there’s a general uptick in excitement around seafood. The pathway to success follows two strategies that walk hand-in-hand today: flavor and sustainability.

Talking Mac

Mac and cheese serves up a great platform for innovation. More sides and shareables, cast-iron serving pans, bite-sized balls, unique add-ins, and longer noodles are also becoming the norm among trend-forward menus. Doing something different—and doing it well—is key to transforming mac and cheese from a stalwart side into a buzz-worthy bite.

Snack Time

Today, the snacking category is huge, and the bar bite category continues to deliver a world of flavor-forward, fun choices. Candied bacon, meatballs, tots, veg-centric dishes like Crispy Squash Blossoms are all on the menu.

Breakfast Breakouts

There are really no limits to flavor play in the breakfast space. We bring you inspiration. Salmon tacos. Avocado chicharrones. Adjarian Khachapuri – a flatbread from Georgia. A Roasted Pear, Spinach and Gorgonzola Omelette. And much much more.

Awesome Sauce

Sauces are the silver bullet, armed with craveability, uniqueness and, of course, flavor. Their role in plate composition isn’t new, but the opportunity today sees chefs leveraging the culinary might of sauces and wielding it in unique and memorable ways—all with the strategy of building a flavor impact that knocks their guests’ socks off.

Instagram Moments

Instagrammability is becoming part of menu strategy today, particularly when trying to woo younger consumers. It’s not enough to make plate presentation appetizing. Gorgeous colors, interactivity, unexpected flourishes, tableside drama—all make the dining consumer click and share. Here are 12 ways to shine on Instagram, garnering that social-media love.

Cocktail Round-up

To identify what is being done to drive appeal and sales of cocktails at trend-forward concepts, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits set out on its second-annual fact-finding tour. The standout discovery this year is the creative and sophisticated use of high-impact ingredients that introduce unique profiles to classic cocktails. Based on our research, here are four key opportunities in the cocktail category.

BEVERAGE

2.Hooked on Classics

Mixologists continue to introduce innovative new cocktails, but the classics never go out of style. These drinks are standbys for a reason: well balanced, broadly appealing, reliably satisfying, nicely nostalgic. They’re enjoying a refresh as operators look to create new experiences with familiar favorites

INGREDIENTS

PROTEIN

1.Lent's Momentum

What better springboard for seafood innovation than Lent? Seafood consumption up, and there’s a general uptick in excitement around seafood. The pathway to success follows two strategies that walk hand-in-hand today: flavor and sustainability.

2.Going Upstream

At Modern Market - a fast casual based in Denver that serves farm-fresh, artisan food, including wholesome grain bowls, modern salads and toasted sandwiches - director of culinary operations Nate Weir talks about how he worked to source exactly the right salmon, then showcased it in a Curried Salmon Bowl LTO, before developing a Salmon Caesar Salad that quickly became the No. 2 seller in the overall menu mix.

PRODUCE

1.Smooth Moves

With consumers showing hummus so much love, there’s an opportunity for menu differentiation through creative play in flavor combinations—both in the hummus and atop. Jorge Cespedes brings you five creative ways to top plant-based purées, lending flavor, texture and menu differentiation.

GLOBAL

DESSERT

RECIPES

This potato-based take on the shawarma boasts better-for-you benefits as well as showstopping creativity.
These Savory Rice Waffles are an innovative, gluten-free offering that appeals to a wide range of diners. Eggs are whisked together with cooked U.S. long-grain rice, savory turkey sausage, spinach, cheddar, cremini mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. The mixture is seared in a waffle iron to a crispy golden brown and served with a maple-sambal sauce.
This Roasted Pear, Spinach and Gorgonzola Omelette is a sweet-savory take on the classic, boasting elegant flavors. “Gorgonzola can be overpowering, but the sweetness of the roasted pear softens its bite, and the flavors marry well together,” says Kathy Stephenson, director of marketing communications for Pear Bureau Northwest. “It’s a unique and unexpected combination in an omelette.”

GALLERY

FROM OUR FRIENDS

With consumers showing hummus so much love, there’s an opportunity for menu differentiation through creative play in flavor combinations—both in the hummus and atop. Jorge Cespedes brings you five creative ways to top plant-based purées, lending flavor, texture and menu differentiation.
For Spokane, Washington–based chef Adam Hegsted, beef means profits across his restaurant group, from the pure craveability of a Teres major steak, cooked sous vide then grilled, to Spaghetti-Stuffed Meatballs that turn a beloved classic literally inside out.
Vibrant color dinnerware options from Libbey® help your one-of-a-kind plating ideas take flight, creating new looks to complement your venue’s unique character. Serve up an experience that is funky, eclectic or adventurous – and always memorable.
Amid the real concern of rising prices in an ever-changing landscape of labor, transportation, food costs and tariffs, flavor should remain every restaurant operator’s top priority.

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