Despite the moves consumers have been making toward wellness and better-for-you options, comfort food has been making a comeback on restaurant menus over the last few years.
But don’t think of your mother’s chicken and dumplings—today, operators are menuing comfort classics with an upscale twist, such as including higher-end ingredients or incorporating ethnic flavors and textures into favorites such as grilled cheese, mashed potatoes and even apple pie. In fact, San Francisco consulting firm Andrew Freeman & Co. reported that in 2014, “highbrow versions of classic comfort foods are popping up all over menus, from appetizers to desserts.”
It’s easy to see why: Upscaled comfort food not only appeals to consumers’ desire for occasional indulgence, but bold, unexpected flavors can generate excitement about well-known dishes. Here’s a sample of chef-inspired comfort food dishes that are popping up on menus today.
Beer Mac n’ Cheese: Half Acre Pale Ale, asiago fresco, housemade pimento cheese, pretzel croutons; $10
Romano’s Macaroni Grill
Houston, Tex.-based; 205 locations
Veal Marsala Meatballs: veal and wild mushroom meatball, house-roasted garlic, caramelized onions, mushroom marsala wine sauce; $13
The Butcher’s Daughter
New York, N.Y.
Smashed Avocado Toast Benedict: Two poached eggs, curried hollandaise, avocado smashed with curry, mustard seed and lime; $15
Lot No. 3
PB&J&B: peanut butter, mixed berry jam, nueske’s bacon, toasted sourdough bread; $9
db Bistro Moderne
New York, N.Y.-based; 3 locations
The Original db Burger: sirloin burger, braised short ribs, foie gras, black truffle, parmesan bun; $34
Union Bar & Grille
Gruyere Popover “BLT”: bacon, frisee, tomato, rosemary fries; $11
This post is sponsored by Campbell’s® Foodservice