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Menu Strategies

A monthly eNewsletter that crosses the boundaries between commercial and non-commercial foodservice, spotlighting the best in menu ideas.

Menu Strategies Articles

Snacking is on the rise, as Americans continue to abandon the traditional three-meals-a-day routine. Growing snacking opportunities are at the bar.

At Applebee’s, the food is just as important as the drinks, so Chef Michael Slavin, executive chef, product development and innovation, has incorporated unique yet approachable bar-bite items into the menu.

Aptly named, bar bites are designed to pair perfectly with any beverage program. For Chicago’s Bar Pastoral, bar bites are a natural extension of the experience Chef Brooks Hart hopes to create for customers: a communal dining experience with an emphasis on non-traditional, quality ingredients.

Global flavors aren't the only elements keeping plates interesting these days. At a recent short course for the Institute of Food Technologists, Sloan Trends pinpointed texture as one of the next major food trends.

McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurants are known for skillfully handing fine ingredients—particularly pristine fish—in a way that enhances the natural quality.

“When we design food, it’s not just about how it looks and tastes and smells, it’s also about how it feels on your palate.”

Ethnic-inspired ingredients are stars of small plate and appetizer menus, and opportunities to expand on these popular offerings will continue into 2014, according to the “What’s Hot 2014 Culinary Forecast” compiled by the National Restaurant Association.

A bustling bar makes a restaurant exciting to patronize in the late afternoon or early evening, opines Matt Harding, corporate executive chef of Columbus, Ohio-based Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, operator of more than 100 polished-casual restaurants. That’s why the company’s Bravo Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille and Bon Vie Bistro concepts boost off-hours business with Bar Menus of fun, shareable, affordable items.

Offering a mix of innovative global cooking and traditional American fare is essential for Jennifer Cleveland and Eric Heath, co-owners of Cleveland-Heath, a creative comfort-food restaurant in Edwardsville, Ill. “We have old-school diners who love meat and potatoes and large entrées and other people who follow the food movement and go for small plates,” says Heath. “We really want to please them both.”

Bison promoters like entrepreneur and rancher Ted Turner and restaurant executive George McKerrow Jr., co-founders of the 44-unit casual dining chain, Ted’s Montana Grill, are putting bison in the spotlight. Out to show that bison is a premium protein that tastes great, Ted’s menus specialties such as bison nachos, chili, burgers, short ribs and meatloaf.