Couldn’t we all use a little comfort right now? Research has confirmed that Americans have turned to comfort foods more regularly since the start of the pandemic. As the holidays and colder weather approach, look to add items to your menu that customers will crave for comfort on a night in. And your comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy. Maybe you can experiment with global spices and sauces to create a new twist on an appetizer – or invent a new dish by combining two of the popular items on your menu.
Offering plant-based items on your menu isn’t just about having a veggie burger on your sandwich menu or offering to substitute vegetables for animal protein in your pasta dishes. It’s also about finding ways to use plant-based ingredients to make a vegan or vegetarian dish as rich and satisfying as any other entrée on your menu. Think about how you can harness the properties of plants to make soups heartier and sauces creamier. When done well, your guests won’t miss the meat.
If you’re looking to appeal to flexitarians and offer a strong gateway to the plant-based foods on your menu, chicken can serve you well. Not only is it a lean protein that can benefit a person’s muscles, bones, mood and cardiovascular health, but it can also be seasoned and prepared in many of the same ways as the vegetables on your menu, making it easy to create different variations on a single dish.
As the weather cools, it’s time to crank up the heat on your menu. That’s especially true if you’re among the many operators looking to extend outdoor dining as late as possible into the colder months this year. Add spice and other smoky seasonings to your marinades and sauces to elevate the depth, flavor and warmth of the meat, poultry and seafood on your menu. It can help you create the feeling of curling up by the fire.
Are you serving up (or packaging up) Thanksgiving meals at your restaurant this year? While Thanksgiving is one of those holidays where people enjoy eating traditional dishes year after year, you can help your menu stand out by offering alternatives that don’t stray far from the classics but still add interest to the menu. Instead of trying to sell guests on creative new main dishes and sides, try incorporating special marinades, gravy and on-trend spices and flavors that will elevate – but not distract from – the classic foods consumers crave.