Appetite for Ethnic Adventure, Health
Commodity costs, the latest flavor pairings, curiosity about global cuisines and healthy-eating sensibilities are all part of a melting pot of trends that drive menu development.
- Margherita Flatbread is dressed with cilantro-ranch pesto, drizzled on top of Monterey Jack, mozzarella and fresh tomatoes
- Chipotle Chicken Flatbread features chile-rubbed grilled chicken, chipotle pesto sauce, a trio of cheeses, cilantro, pico de gallo and a drizzle of tomato sauce.
- California Grilled Chicken Flatbread features applewood-smoked bacon, grilled chicken, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cilantro, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and roasted garlic aioli.
|A standout trend from this discussion of the menu is health. There’s plenty of talk about healthy eating, and now the conversation is veering toward better-for-you foods that taste better, too. Creative and contemporary menu developers recognize that today’s healthy-menu offerings should showcase deeper levels of flavor; freshness and a made-to-order focus; exotic, ethnic influences with a lighter touch; and veggie-centric appetizers and entrées that boast a heartiness that appeals to vegans, vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.|
Rising Prices, Enticing Entrées
- Hardwood-Fired Moroccan Chicken Breast at Elephant Bar
- Caribbean Chicken with pan-Asian ratatouille and caramelized bananas at Kona Grill
- Jerk Chicken with warm mango salsa, almond rice and orange jicama slaw at Tommy Bahama
- Greek Panini -- with egg, feta cheese, black olives, baby spinach and red onion, at Sandella’s Flatbread Café
- Med Specialty Sandwich -- with grilled chicken strips, Greek dressing, feta cheese, kalamata olives, cucumbers, pepperoncinis, red onions, lettuce and tomato, at Spicy Pickle
- Greek Chicken Rollup -- a wrap stuffed with sautéed chicken, fresh spinach, diced tomatoes, peppers, onions, kalamata olives, feta cheese and Greek vinaigrette, at T-Bones Great American Eatery
- Sweet Hot Vegan -- sandwich made with a tofu frittata patty and edamame with sea salt, at 4food, New York City
- Mujadara Pocket -- pita stuffed with lentils, rice, mixed greens, Lebanese salata and fried onions, and topped with choice of sauce, including varieties like almond nut and tahini yogurt, at Aladdin’s Eatery
- Vegan Pilgrim -- vegan breaded “chicken,” cranberry sauce, sriracha and vegan cheese, at Ike’s Place, San Francisco.
Flavorful, Portable, On-trend Desserts
- Salted Caramel Pudding -- rich caramel pudding, dark caramel sauce, black cocoa cookie crumbs, homemade whipped cream and natural flaked sea salt, at California Pizza Kitchen
- Caramel Cocoa Cheesecake -- garnished with salted caramel, at George Webb Restaurants
- Salted Caramel Shake -- a milk shake blended with caramel sauce and red Hawaiian sea salt, topped with whipped cream and a sprinkling of the red salt, at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
Hot (and Cool) Beverage Trends
- Mexican Coffee -- with coffee, Kahlua, Cuervo Tradicional Tequila and whipped cream, at Chevys Fresh Mex
- Nuts & Berry Coffee -- with Frangelico and Chambord liqueurs, at Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill
- Espresso; Cappuccino -- customers can add their choice of Kahlua, Patron XO, Bailey’s Irish Cream or Amaretto di Saronno, at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen
- The Cheesecake Factory’s Twisted Salted Caramel Pretzel -- furthering the salty/sweet flavor trend, with Absolut Vodka, Licor 43, caramel, pretzels and ice cream, and Flying Gorilla -- a “kicked-up” chocolate-banana milk shake with Godiva chocolate and banana liqueur
- Bobby’s Burger Palace’s Vanilla Caramel Bourbon, Pineapple Coconut Rum and Mocha Kahlua Vodka.
- Harmony -- with cucumber, kale, spinach, apple and lemon juices
- Focus -- with kale, orange and carrot juices
- Restore -- with apple, beet, carrot and lemon juices
- Balance -- with beet, spinach, apple, lemon and ginger juices