Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Veg-forward—Just a Bite Produce as a bar snack? Yes, yes indeed.

Gobi Manchurian is a battered-and-fried cauliflower dish that’s ready for adoption on American bar menus.

The case has been made for veg-centricity. It’s a thriving, thrilling part of foodservice today, wowing diners with truly craveable flavors built around produce, often turning to meaty ingredients like bagna càuda or crispy pork to help ratchet up flavor.

So many parts of the menu have embraced it—from bowl builds and sides to modern entrées. The snack menu is another playground for produce today. Below are examples from trend-forward restaurants that demonstrate the awesomeness of veg-centric bar snacks.

1. Broccoli

Long a star of steakhouse sides menu, chefs are dialing up its craveability with strategic uses of assertive flavors—all while leveraging broccoli’s familiarity and vibrant color.
—Broccoli di Ciccio with sheep’s cheese, brown butter pecans, country ham vinegar
Manuela, Los Angeles
—Grilled Broccolini with tomato confit and garlic
Mardi, Los Angeles

2. Brussels sprouts

One of the early champions of veg-centricity, Brussels sprouts have always found a natural ally with meaty garnishes like bacon. Now, they’re buddying up to the bar, signaling the openness of diners to embrace their greens.
—Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts tossed in bagna càuda
The Cannibal, Culver City, Calif.
—Brussel Sprouts with smokey ham and Gouda
Giant, Chicago

3. Celery

This is a relatively new star at the bar—other than serving as a garnish to the Bloody Mary. Leading with its fresh, bright, grassy flavor and satisfying crunch, chefs are dressing it up beautifully.
—Celery with seasoned peanuts and salsa macha
Empellon, New York
—Kombu Celery: Fresh celery sticks with red shiso, white sesame, salted kombu
Bar Goto, New York

4. Cauliflower

Another hero of the veg-centric movement, chefs are taking cauliflower to the next level, moving it from side dish to bar hero—all thanks to its pleasingly nutty flavor and ability to take on char in a satisfying way.
—Paneer & Roasted Cauliflower Makhani with fenugreek-tomato curr
Bombay Bread Bar, New York
—Wood-roasted Cauliflower with garlic, chili, vinegar
Gjelina, Los Angeles

5. Radishes

Another somewhat new phenomenon on menus, radishes are finding a home here thanks to their bright color and snappy flavor. They also move to sublime territory when paired with butter.
—Radishes with bagna càuda butter, lemon, sea salt
Roberta’s, Brooklyn, N.Y.
—Radish with butter
Fauntleroy, Milwaukee


About The Author


Katie Ayoub is managing editor of Flavor & The Menu. She has been working in foodservice publishing for more than 16 years and on the Flavor team since 2006. She won a 2015 Folio award for her Flavor & The Menu article, Heritage Matters. In 2006, she won “Best Culinary Article” from the Cordon D’Or for an article on offal.