Red Lobster, Burgerville and CPK make a subtle nod to the holidays

Taste Tracker: Krispy Kreme rushes into Christmas; cocktails make a splash at Bonefish and Ted’s Montana Grill; comfort foods rule at Tender Greens; and wings take flight at Pei Wei.
Photos courtesy of the brands

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, some operators took a bit of a breather before rushing into the winter holiday season, while others introduced menu items with a subtle celebratory spirit. But there are also those who jumped right in with unmistakable Christmas-themed launches before the last turkey leftover was eaten.

Red Lobster is marking the season with a lobster and shrimp celebration offering three new options. There’s a Lobster & Shrimp Holiday Feast pairing lobster tail and shrimp in an orange-rosemary holiday sauce; Lobster & Cheddar Bay-Stuffed Shrimp featuring a roasted lobster tail and shrimp topped with brioche, Cheddar Bay, bacon and mushrooms; and Lobster & Shrimp Overboard with a lobster tail, seafood linguine and a grilled shrimp skewer.

A Neapolitan Burrata Pizza dressed in holiday colors is on the menu at California Pizza Kitchen. It’s topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves and olive oil. Shaking Beef with Pasta adds Asian flavors to CPK’s current lineup.

Regional chain Burgerville is offering a Holiday Piquant Cheeseburger, but it doesn’t scream “holiday” in appearance. Flavors are the selling point here, with toppings of horseradish aioli, red onion and arugula. Flavors also differentiate the Rosemary Sea Salt Fries and Cocoa Peppermint Shake and Sundae.

Ted’s Montana Grill is celebrating with two new cocktails: a hand-crafted Espresso Martini and a Huckleberry Mule mixed with Tito’s vodka. Proceeds from the sale of each cocktail will support Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), a nonprofit that benefits the families of employees who are unable to work due to chronic illness, injury or natural disaster.

Cocktails are also making waves over at Bonefish Grill with its seasonal Martini Mondays promotion. There are seven martinis for $7 each, including Pomegranate, Espresso, Fresh Apple and “1901 Dirty.”

Meanwhile, Pei Wei is tapping into the chicken wing trend, introducing three wok-flavored bone-in varieties. There are Spicy Korean BBQ Wings, Mango Habanero Wings and Sticky Wings with a caramelized sauce of white wine, garlic and soy. Each comes in a 6-, 12- or 24-wing size.

Tender Greens is going all in on comfort food with six warm and cozy dishes. The Short Rib Dinner features braised beef short rib, mashed potatoes, red wine shallot sauce and grilled broccolini. Also on offer is meaty Bolognese Pasta. On the vegetarian side are a California Bowl, with roasted butternut squash salsa, brown rice, cabbage slaw, pepitas and queso fresco, and The Blue Zone Bowl with black lentils, roasted rainbow cauliflower, purple potatoes, fennel and dried pears.

Breakfast and brunch are always popular comfort-food occasions around the holidays and Another Broken Egg has it covered. The chain’s limited-time lineup includes a Gingerbread Waffle topped with candied pecans and bourbon-spiked whipped cream, Lobster Benedict and spiked Gingerbread Rum Punch.

To end on a sweet note, Salt & Straw launched five ice cream flavors to evoke holiday nostalgia. The Holiday Series includes Toasted White Chocolate & Peppermint Almonds, Gingerbread Cookie Dough, Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache, vegan Chocolate Sugar Cookie Dough and Dwanta’s Teremana Spiked Eggnog inspired by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s holiday alter ego.

And Krispy Kreme’s holiday collection is inspired by the movie classic “Elf,” celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The Christmas doughnut quartet includes a Buddy Snow Globe Doughnut, Buddy Makes Breakfast Doughnut, Christmas Lights Doughnut and Santa Belly Doughnut, all iced and decorated to support the theme.


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