Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh


Menus: What's in, what's out

Tired of bacon and salted caramel? At the saturation point with farm-to-table menus? Predicting trends is always a risky business, but it looks like those few may have peaked in 2012. So what’s on the radar for 2013?


Always room for dessert

Inspired, satisfying indulgences are filling dessert menus and beyond—they’re also appearing for breakfast, as snacks and in cocktails.

The Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket has been heating up the menu at Firehouse Subs since its launch, and now it’s starring in a special 90-day promotion. What makes this sandwich such a hot ticket at the Jacksonville, Florida sandwich concept? It starts with the meat.

In tune with the seasons, Park Avenue restaurant in New York City completely changes its menu, décor and even its name four times a year. Park Avenue Winter is now in full swing, with the dining room decked out in winter finery and the kitchen turning out dishes based on seasonal seafood and produce and hearty grains and meats.

Healthy beverages and delectable drinks may seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, but they’re moving closer all the time.

No longer just an add-on, breakfast is big business, bringing in $57 billion a year to restaurants (2011 Mintel Breakfast Report). Savvy foodservice...

Chili has always been a mainstay for the 12-unit Braintree, Massachusetts-based Joe’s American Bar & Grill, but it didn’t bowl over Steve Byrne, VP of culinary operations. So last February, he took it off the menu. “That was the biggest mistake I’ve made in my career,” he claims.

Crafting a Southern-inspired Christmas menu is “a balancing act,” declares Don Drake, executive chef of Magnolias in Charleston, S.C. That’s because even though patrons relish the upscale restaurant’s modern takes on traditional cooking, they tend to judge its holiday dishes against their own cherished memories of home-cooked fare.

An appetizer is supposed to whet the appetite for the rest of the meal, but these days, these first courses are serving as much more than “starters.” Restaurant customers are making whole meals out of downsized dishes, and many menus are dedicated entirely to tapas, small plates and shareable apps.

Owner Christopher Mullins is getting a jumpstart on fall at McGillin’s Olde Ale House in Philadelphia. The 152-year-old tavern launched its Oktoberfest celebration at the end of August. “We try to be the first for all of the holidays,” says Mullins.

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