Seafood is a popular menu item, in no small part because of its versatility. It’s also often menued as a better-for-you option or an alternative for consumers who may seek out alternative proteins on menus.
But operators today are mixing up menus by offering indulgent, rich seafood dishes, too—which are continuing to resonate with consumers of all types.
What kind of seafood do consumers want?
Because seafood items often have a higher price point than other proteins, consumers are more likely to see them as a special treat. According to Technomic’s 2017 Left Side of the Menu: Seafood and Vegetarian report, 35% of consumers choose seafood over meat to treat themselves.
Current menu trends reflect this mindset—though perhaps in different ways. In other words, though consumers may be treating themselves to a premium menu item, they might also want to treat themselves with a richer dish. And though there are numerous healthy seafood options, some of the most popular menu items are indulgent ones. Based on Technomic’s report, 61% of consumers said they would be likely to order fried fish, while 53% said they’d order breaded fish, and 38% would order tempura-battered fish.
In addition, pasta dishes with seafood are among the most indulgent favorites. This format was the most likely to be ordered, with 53% of consumers saying they’d order a seafood pasta entree. And out of the flavors that customers preferred, buttery seafood was the most popular—a decidedly decadent choice.
Adding seafood options customers will crave
Seafood is one of the most versatile items on the menu, and restaurant operators can create a number of dishes that are indulgent with it. And for those customers who dine out because they want to treat themselves, it’s a perfect match.
The Melting Pot, an upscale fondue restaurant, is a leader in decadence. The restaurant offers a number of seafood combinations as part of their four-course meals. One of its options is the Seafood Trio, which features a cheese fondue course, a salad, a seafood trio—ahi tuna, salmon and shrimp—and is then finished off with a luxurious chocolate fondue course. The restaurant also offers the option of adding lobster tails to other meal options.
While the Melting Pot is on the high end of indulgence, other casual dining restaurants can follow this example to create decadent menu items. Fish fries and fish and chips are popular menu items any time of year—at Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, a casual dining chain with locations across the country, a recent Fish & Chips LTO featured Samuel Adams beer-battered cod, lightly fried and served with tangy tartar sauce, coleslaw and seasoned fries.
If restaurants want to incorporate more indulgent seafood menu items, it’s hard to go wrong with buttery or fried fish. Since seafood is so versatile, it can be used in anything from pastas to tacos. Customers often crave these decadent dishes when they go out to eat, and seasonal specials and different combinations of ingredients can keep consumers coming back.
This post is sponsored by High Liner Foods