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Food trends and recipes to keep menus fresh


Raising spirits

"There’s a certain audacity to offering Chartreuse on tap,” says Mike Ryan, head bartender at Sable Kitchen & Bar in Chicago, because no other bar in town offers the esoteric French liqueur on draft.


French-American comfort

Cooking seasonally goes beyond sourcing fruits, vegetables and other ingredients that are at their peak. After all, for the next few months, local fields may be barren and fresh produce scarce in a large part of the country.

Chefs strut their creativity with small plates, playing up lighter ingredients and global flavors.

With meatless items among the top 10 center-of-the-plate trends for 2014, according to the National Restaurant Association, even operators who might not have done meatless are making room on the menu.

Steak performs well for Cousins Subs, because core customers see it as a point of differentiation for a sandwich QSR, says Justin McCoy, VP of marketing at the 122-unit chain based in Menamonee Falls, Wis. So in the last quarter of 2014, R&D developed a cheesesteak that layers a more generous portion of steak with premium ingredients.

When hunger hits, being on the exhibit floor at the NRA Show is not the worst place to be. The sprawl is packed with places to grab food samples. One Restaurant Business editor set out to find booths serving the most generous portions.

Meaning “sausage kitchen” in German, fast-casual Wurstküche serves a variety of encased meats and imported German brews to customers in Denver and L.A.

Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill messed with a good thing when it reformatted its top-selling Wild Salmon Lite Burrito, and placed its bets on a bowl.

In our latest roundup of offbeat offerings, french fries gain ground as a garnish, the Whopperito is born, and we dive into the mystery that is the McFloat.

New menu items prove that operators are still going after the next tasty flavor pairing to be discovered.

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