In February, steak and fish entrees and savory breakfast sandwiches dominated the list of chain LTOs consumers said they would most likely order, as indicated by Technomic’s MenuSurf survey, powered by Ignite. However, the LTOs consumers were prone to purchase weren’t necessarily the same dishes they found most craveworthy. Click ahead to see the top chain LTOs, ranked from fifth to first in the two categories, starting with purchase intent. (MenuSurf’s canvass of 500 consumers on purchase intent and craveability for 100-plus LTOs shows which are most appealing on the basis of the item’s name and description.)
5. Ham and Cheese Savory Danish
La Madeleine bakery and cafe sticks close to its roots with a French-inspired breakfast to go. The handheld pastry consists of sliced ham and Swiss cheese baked into flaky croissant dough. From its description, a little more than 57% of consumers were tempted to order the item.
4. Chicken Parmesan Sandwich
Hot sandwiches were a hot item in February, when much of the country was experiencing chilly winter weather. Mimi’s Cafe menued a classic with wide appeal—its Chicken Parmesan Sandwich—and more than 58% of consumers found the LTO appealing enough to spur a purchase. Mimi’s version is served on crusty French bread, layered with melted mozzarella, a generous splash of sauce and shredded Parmesan.
3. Pub-Style Fish and Chips
Slightly more than 59% of respondents would purchase Red Lobster’s Pub-Style Fish and Chips, according to MenuSurf data. The battered fish fillets come with the traditional accompaniments—fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce. Although this dish doesn’t get high marks for originality—only 38.7% of consumers felt the dish was unique—its comfort factor was appealing.
2. Filet Mignon Medallions
The menu at Fatz Southern Kitchen focuses on Southern specialties, but consumers went for something that breaks the mold with the chain’s Filet Mignon Medallions. The description of the upscale-sounding item—three seared petite filet medallions topped with sauteed mushrooms, onions and merlot au jus—elicited a purchase intent score of 59.3%. Meaty entrees appeal to heartier appetites in winter.
1. Panera Bread's Breakfast Sandwiches
Panera debuted a new line of breakfast sandwiches in mid-January, which evidently struck a chord with consumers, as four of them earned the top spots in purchase intent among MenuSurf respondents. All feature cooked-to-order eggs on brioche buns with Vermont white cheddar cheese. Coming in at No. 1 with a score of 66.7% was the Bacon, Egg & Cheese, which features applewood-smoked bacon in addition to the other ingredients. Next in appeal was the Ham, Egg & Cheese at 62.3%, followed by Sausage, Egg & Cheese at 60.9%. The simpler Egg & Cheese garnered a rating of 59.9%.
5. Creamy Short Rib Orecchiette
When it comes to craveable dishes, consumers go for those with enticing descriptions. The Creamy Short Rib Orecchiette at Buca di Beppo fits the bill; 72.9% of potential purchasers found it craveworthy. This pasta prep features slow-braised pulled short ribs, baby portobello mushrooms, red onions, fire-roasted tomatoes, Parmesan and orecchiette tossed with white wine cream sauce. The item also scored big on originality, with 67.9% of potential purchasers finding it unique.
4. Guinness Sundae
Sweets earned three of the top five spots in terms of craveability, with the Guinness Sundae at Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant coming in at No. 4. A little more than 73% of potential purchasers craved the dessert from its description. The sundae features a brownie topped with Guinness ice cream, whipped cream, pecans and chocolate sauce.
3. Smoked Butterscotch Frappuccino Blended Beverage
Starbucks’ Smoked Butterscotch Frappuccino is not technically a dessert, but the LTO does qualify as a sweet and indulgent treat. More than 74% of potential purchasers found the combination of smoke and butterscotch to be craveable in a blended coffee beverage, although only 25% said they would actually order the item.
2. Dozen-Layer PB & Chocolate Cake
The 12-layer cake offered by Newk’s Eatery tempted 74.8% of potential purchasers with its description. In addition to peanut butter and chocolate ganache—two craveable ingredients—the cake also boasts white and devil’s food cake layers made in Newk’s bakery. The dessert rated almost as high in uniqueness, with potential purchasers giving it a score just over 73%.
1. Chilaquiles Nachos
Consumers were also taken by Bar Louie’s LTO of Chilaquiles Nachos, a dish that can go from brunch through late night. Over 75% of potential purchasers rated the boldly flavored mashup as craveable. With hearty toppings of pulled pork, black beans, green onions, tomatoes, jalapenos and two sunnyside-up eggs, the LTO was promoted as a unique twist on a Mexican classic.