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2019 Top Independents’ most successful menu additions

A few trends emerged in this year’s list of top menu additions, including shareable entree options and a focus on seafood.
Photograph courtesy Komodo

Popular new offerings from the Top 100 independents restaurants range from high-end steak and sashimi to comforting cocktails and quesadillas. A few trends emerged in this year’s list of top menu additions, including shareable entree options and a focus on seafood.

Prime 112 (No. 11) said its kobe beef dumplings were its most popular addition to the menu. The $25 appetizer is served with sweet chili aioli and soy vinaigrette.

Listed on its rolls-raw-sashimi portion of the menu, Komodo (No. 17) names its truffled honey salmon its top menu add.

Taste of Texas (No. 31) named a crab stick appetizer LTO its most successful new addition. The dish features chilled fresh avocado tossed in habanero-herb vinaigrette with fresh mango, and topped with jumbo lump crab meat.

Boston steakhouse Abe & Louie’s (No. 35) found success with its grass-fed filet mignon menu addition. The $58 entrée features an 8-ounce Prime steak sourced from corn-fed, Midwestern cows.

It’s not always an individual dish that does well. Shooters Waterfront (No. 39) said its fresh catch of the day was its most successful new menu add.

Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant (No. 45) found success with the addition of a 14-ounce ribeye to its list of steaks. The $38 cut, like all of Harris Ranch’s steaks, are topped with maître ‘d butter and include a choice of rub or seasoning such as California Cajun, salt and pepper, house grill or salt and brown sugar.

Rusty Pelican (No. 49) was successful with a selection of cocktails-driven promotions. The restaurant held a Negroni week and a Macallan tasting dinner, as well as an oyster day.

Photograph courtesy of Rusty Pelican

Photograph courtesy of Rusty Pelican

Chicago steakhouse Swift & Sons (No. 50) named its dry-aged ribeye as its most successful new menu addition. The concept’s prime steaks menu has offerings ranging from a $50 5-ounce Wagyu strip loin to a $105 beef wellington.

Sticking to traditional Nashville flavors, Acme Feed & Seed (No. 60) said its smoked brisket quesadilla with jalapeno gouda and sauteed onions and peppers was its most popular menu addition.

Prime & Provisions (No. 64) launched its “no waste steak sandwich” program in conjunction with the James Beard Foundation to much success. Any guest with leftover steak (four pieces or more) has the option to take home a new dish made from the leftover meat. Each sandwich consists of leftover steak, laid over a spread of tomato jam. It is topped with garlic aioli, arugula and crispy onions, sandwiched between two slices of crustless bread, and then wrapped in recyclable deli paper.

Cliff House (No. 75) gave on-trend avocado toast an upscale twist with its most popular menu addition: avocado toast with mesquite-charred salmon belly.

Tavern on Rush (No. 78) found success with a shared plate: Tavern Sizzling Experience for Two. The $140 meal includes a 20-ounce KC strip steak, grilled Maine lobster and jumbo shrimp.

Franciscan Crab Restaurant (No. 79) named two options from its sandwich menu as its best new additions: Dungeness crab melt ($22.99) and abalone dore ($74.99).

Adding a seafood slant to a classic dish, Paradise Cove Beach Cafe (No. 82) named its shrimp Bolognese linguine as a great new menu addition. Listed in its own menu section called “The Best Pasta,” the $29.95 entree features a recipe with onions, garlic, lemon, tarragon, fennel, red chili flakes, tomatoes and French pernod.

BOA Steakhouse (No. 84) added several vegan items to its menu, even creating a vegan section on the dinner menu. Options include a Nidi Bolognese made with almond ricotta and mushroom Bolognese, a chile relleno made with walnut cream and tomato rice, and an Impossible L.A. Classic featuring Impossible chili and vegan cheese.

Finding success with a new seafood entree, The Southern Steak & Oyster (No. 88) added a seared sea scallops to the menu. The $38 dish is served with corn maque choux, roasted cherry tomatoes, mole verde and candied bacon.

Photograph courtesy of The Southern Steak & Oyster

Photograph courtesy of The Southern Steak & Oyster

While goat is in the name, the most successful new menu addition at Girl & the Goat (No. 91) was the wood-fired lamb skewers, served with rhubarb relish, cilantro-yuzu vinaigrette and a garlic crunch.

Whiskey Joe’s Tampa (No. 98) had several new menu hits, including fire-grilled oysters, coconut-rum chicken and a pineapple bacon chicken sandwich. Both the coconut-rum chicken and the sandwich are made with beer-battered chicken breast.

Click here to return to the 2019 Top 100 Independents.

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