Operators are launching winter menus featuring comforting, heartier foods and warm drinks. And plant-forward items continue to trend. Here’s a roundup of current menu highlights.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill is introducing its Winter Features menu, which runs through Dec. 31. The menu offers 10 new items in step with the season, several of which boast bolder, more robust flavors. These include Crab-Crowned Chile Salmon; a Crispy Chicken Sandwich on toasted focaccia with herbed goat cheese; French Onion and Mushroom Sliced Steak topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms with Gruyere cheese; and a Grilled Prime Pork Chop with bacon-bourbon mustard glaze. On the comforting side are Baked Herbed Goat Cheese Fondue and Pyramid Peach Chocolate Cheesecake.
Beverage additions include Flannel Pajamas (coffee with butterscotch schnapps and chocolate liqueur) and Fired Up Coffee with tiramisu liqueur and tuaca, an Italian brandy.
Tropical Smoothie Cafe
Tropical Smoothie Cafe is releasing its first line of grilled cheese sandwiches, available until Dec. 31. The two comfort-food favorites are Smoky Grilled Cheese with fresh mozzarella, white American cheese, bacon and smoked tomato spread on brioche and Classic Grilled Cheese, featuring cheddar and white American cheese on brioche. Also returning for the holiday season are the chain’s cranberry smoothies in Cranberry Truffle and Very Berry flavors.
Burger Lounge is offering a plant-based burger made with fonio, an ancient West African grain. The fast casual partnered with Yolele Foods, distributors of fonio, to be the first to develop a burger with the sustainable, millet-like grain as a primary ingredient. Also in the mix are red quinoa, brown rice, zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, corn, onion and garlic. Burger Lounge’s Organic Quinoa Vegan Burger is layered with vegan cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, fresh or grilled onions, pickles and vegan Thousand Island dressing on a vegan bun.
Dog Haus also debuted its first vegan item, the Take Banh Mi. The chain partnered with chef Ilan Hall for its final LTO of 2019. The plant-based banh mi features an Impossible Foods burger patty topped with pickled vegetables, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, spicy vegan mayo, chile oil and hoisin sauce served on a vegan ciabatta bun. On the beverage end, Dog Haus added two new cocktails: the Patio Crusher (vodka, watermelon, lime, mint and cucumber) and The Gatekeeper, a fruity beer-based drink.
Modern Market Eatery
Modern Market Eatery’s new Chefs Picks menu is veggie-focused, too. The fast casual introduced Beyond Meat as an option, featuring the brand’s plant-based Italian sausage crumbles for a pizza topping. The Beyond Sausage vegetarian pizza includes ricotta, shaved Brussels sprouts, roasted onion, smoky Jack cheese and chile oil. Brussels sprouts also show up in a new Harvest Cobb Salad, Ricotta Pom Toast and Seasonal Fire Roasted Veggies.