Tag Archives: menus


Restaurant Menus Will Feature Even More Snacks Next Year

According to a study conducted a couple years ago, the number of fast-food menus featuring the word “snack” tripled from 2007 to 2010. Our snacking seems to have only picked up pace since then.
QSRWeb named “Snacks” as one of the top quick-service restaurant trends for 2012, listing just a few of the many new snacks introduced lately:

The daypart between lunch and dinner continues to grow, buoyed by snack-sized launches such as McDonald’s Chicken McBites, Jack in the Box’s Mini Corn Dogs, KFC’s Original Chicken Bites, Pretzelmaker’s Pretzel Bites, Whataburger’s Whatachick’n Bites, Popeyes’ Wicked, Dip’n and Rip’n Chick’n, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pancake Bites and Wienerschnitzel’s Der Chicken Dippers.

Likewise, National Restaurant Association named “half-portions/smaller portions for a smaller price” as one of its top trends to watch out for in 2013. Restaurant consultants such as Baum & Whiteman are also highlighting the “Snackification of America” in 2013 trend reports, with more and more “minis” appearing at “fast food chains, adding impulse revenue to between-meal shoulder hours.” The consultant report explains:

We’re eating less at every meal… but more than making up for it with endless snacking … and our national waistlines prove it. Snacks account for one in five “eating occasions” … multiple snacks now qualify as America’s “fourth meal” … and even the traditional three are degenerating into nibbles and bits.

The snacking trend is hot at bars and upscale restaurants as well, according to Andrew Freeman & Co., whose 2013 restaurant forecast calls for more tiny menu items, including smaller selections on toast (“Perfect for snacking and for sharing”) and “One Bite Wonders” (“Pay per the piece pre-appetizer courses priced less than $5 each”). Freeman told Nation’s Restaurant News that snacking is a trend that’s been in the works for years:

For example, he said bar food will increasingly play a role in restaurant dining, offering all-day menus for snacking and helping restaurants lose their special-occasion-only place in consumers’ minds. “Bar food, I think, is as important as dining room food,” he said.

What’s with the onslaught of snacks? Whatever happened to three square meals per day? Well, the truth is it’s been a long time since snacks and snacking between meals have universally been considered bad things. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta wrote in 2008:

You can forget the no-snacking rule. Snacks can actually help stabilize your blood-sugar level, making it easier to curb your cravings come meal time.

Full Article @ Time

Please rate this product:


Cheese Trends Driven By Flavor, Variety and New Menu Concepts

Sophisticated cheese flavors and varieties continue to develop along with the United States’ collective palate.

That’s according to What’s in Store 2012, the annual trends report from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association. Cheese embodies many top culinary trends, including local/farm/estate-branded ingredients, ethnic flavor interest, emphasis on children’s nutrition, and simplicity.

Bolder flavors are the hottest cheese trend as consumers venture beyond younger-aged cheeses to more robustly aged and flavorful ingredient-filled cheeses. Artisan cheeses are now flavored quite diversely, with inclusions like truffle, chipotle, wasabi, horseradish, cocoa, saffron, apricot, pear and bacon. Washed-rind and cave-aged cheeses are also popular. Some retailers now even do their own cheese aging.

The top three fastest-growing natural cheeses at retail are manchego, gruyére and gouda.

Restaurants are offering more cheese varieties on menus for appetizers, to accent entrees, and for dessert. The cheese course has been showing up on gastro pub menus and restaurants. Middle-aged-to-younger consumers are more likely to eat cheese for dessert. Specialty cheeses on burgers and pizza have become more common place, and grilled cheese has climbed the social ladder from American cheese between slices of white bread to manchego cheese and Serrano ham on panini.

Artisan cheese ranked 20th in the National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot in 2011 chef survey. In the “other food items/ingredients” category, artisan cheese is the top trend, followed by ethnic cheeses, such as queso fresco, paneer and halloumi.

Hispanic cheeses continue to drive sales. As the Hispanic population rises in the United States, so does demand. At the same time, consumers use these cheeses as they try to recreate dishes at home that they tried in popular Latin American and Mexican-style restaurants. With interest in the Mediterranean diet and the growth of Greek yogurt, feta cheese is more popular.

Households in the highest income category, $100,000-plus, index the highest for more flavorful cheeses. Larger households tend to purchase the most cheddar cheese. Two-member households are the most likely to purchase cheese from the deli. Also most likely were families with household incomes greater than $75,000, those with no children under age 18 and white or Hispanic consumers.

According to Nielsen Perishables Group, almost 70 percent of U.S. households make service deli cheese purchases.
Shoppers average roughly 15 trips to the in-store deli annually. Deli cheese accounts for 19.8 percent of deli department dollar sales. In the 52 weeks ending Sept. 22, specialty cheese accounted for 64 percent of this category (7.4 percent growth), service cheese, 30.2 percent (4.9 percent growth) and 5.9 percent (7.7 percent growth) from pre-sliced cheese.

Grocery stores had the largest share of total cheese volume sales at 63.8 percent in 2010, though volume growth decreased 1.9 percent from the year before, according to SymphonyIRI Group Panel Data reported by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. U.S. cheese demand has significantly slowed in recent years, averaging 2.2 percent growth for the last decade, down from 4.7 percent growth in the 1980s and 3.3 percent annual growth in the 1990s.

Shredded cheese is the top selling form, followed by chunk/loaf cheese and sliced cheese.

What’s in Store 2012 is a 200-plus-page trends report that details consumer and industry trends affecting the dairy case, cheese case, bakery, deli and foodservice supermarket departments. Visit the IDDBA’s website to order a copy.

Madison, Wis.-based IDDBA is a nonprofit membership organization serving the dairy, deli, bakery, cheese and supermarket foodservice industries.

Please rate this product:


Why Calorie Counts on Menus Aren’t Useful

Research from Columbia University suggests that restaurants need better guidelines on communicating information to their customers.

PROBLEM: Two years ago, the federal government required restaurants with 20 or more locations to provide nutrition facts on their menus, ostensibly to curb the increasing prevalence of obesity. Can these calorie labels help diners make smarter food choices?

METHODOLOGY: Researchers led by Columbia University nursing professor Elizabeth Cohn evaluated the calorie counts for 200 food items on menu boards in fast-food chain restaurants in the New York inner-city neighborhood of Harlem. They developed a measure to calculate what constitutes a single serving and the number of calories in a single serving. They then combined this measure with current Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines to rate the utility of the information.

RESULTS: Though most restaurants offered basic calorie counts, in the majority of cases there was insufficient information to make use of them at the point of purchase. Complex math skills were needed to interpret meals designed to serve more than one person or to evaluate nutrition values for customizable and combination menu items.

CONCLUSION: Calorie listings on restaurant menus aren't as useful to consumers as they should be.

IMPLICATION: The authors note that, though their investigation did not focus on actual food purchasing behavior, their work still suggests the need for more comprehensible calorie information on menus. They write in their paper: "As further legislation is developed, we support the FDA in their commitment to having menu boards that are useful at all levels of literacy."

SOURCE: The full study, "Calorie Postings in Chain Restaurants in a Low-Income Urban Neighborhood: Measuring Practical Utility and Policy Compliance," is published in the Journal of Urban Health.


Please rate this product:


Eggs Are All The Rage On NYC Menus

Photographer Sarah Forbes Keough, 32, recalls a meal she had recently at Greenpoint restaurant Five Leaves. “They have this insane burger that has beets, pineapple and a fried egg. You read the description, and you’re like, ‘I don’t know, man.’ And then you eat it, and it’s fantastic.”

She should know. She runs a food zine called “Put a Egg on It.” It’s an apt name considering these days, everywhere you go in the city’s restaurants, menus are rife with lunch and dinner entrees oozing with eggs.

Over at new Nordic hot spot Acme in NoHo, there’s the signature Chicken & Eggs dish served in a clay pot and crowned with lightly poached, then fried eggs; at the Meatball Shop on Stanton Street, the Family Jewels meatball sandwich is topped with a fried egg; at King, the new Greenwich Village restaurant headed by chef Francis Derby, a poached egg is paired with octopus and frisee salad; and, if the duck entree at Williamsburg restaurant Masten Lake wasn’t opulent enough, don’t worry: It’s added a quivering poached duck egg to the mix.

Fried quail egg decadently sauces crisp suckling pig cheek at Tertulia.

In fact, restaurants are so egg-static that Danny Meyer’s new spot in the Financial District, North End Grill — headed by chef Floyd Cardoz — is going full bore: There’s an entire section on the menu dedicated only to eggs, pairing them with peekytoe crab, tuna tartare and caviar.

But has the egg trend gone too far?

“It’s become the Ugg boots of food,” says Andrew Knowlton, restaurant editor of Bon Appetit.

“It’s a trend that’s long past its welcome.”

A favorite twist at David Chang’s influential Momofuku restaurants, the egg has since become the garnish of choice nearly everywhere; indeed, Bon Appetit declared it the “dish of the year” way back in 2009. But now, says Knowlton: “It’s become a crutch for some chefs.”

“When they don’t know what to do with a dish, they’ll — just to add that certain extra gilding-the-lily lusciousness — put an egg on it.”

But that hasn’t stopped high-caliber chefs from flipping for eggs — and customers from greedily gobbling them up.

For both Cardoz and Derby, the egg presents a challenge; making something familiar more exciting. During his stint at wd-50, Derby learned from Wylie Dufresne, who is famous for his deconstructed eggs benedict.

“There’s a way to cook eggs that a lot of people have never seen before,” says Derby, whose octopus dish features an egg that looks hard-boiled but is in fact three-minute poached.

“That’s maybe what keeps people’s interest.”

For foodies like Keogh, the attraction is visceral. “There’s the moment when you take the first bite of fried egg on a hamburger or a sandwich — and it kind of makes the yolk run over,” she says. “It becomes like a sauce. And taking the first bite finishes the preparation.”

And, as Cardoz and Knowlton point out, the egg is a cheap source of protein: “Eggs have played an important part in Third World countries where people can’t afford expensive protein,” says Cardoz, the North End Grill chef, noting that eggs are often incorporated in traditional Indian and Asian foods.

“Let’s not forget there is this recession, and it is one of the most economical ways to add protein and richness to any dish,” says Bon Appetit’s Knowlton. “Before you might have added something more expensive, but an egg is something that everybody will eat, it’s low-cost for the restaurant and they can charge $2.50 to add an egg to your burger or pizza or sandwich or whatever.”

Registered dietitian Mary Barbour says that while eggs are tremendous sources of protein, they come with a downside: a high level of cholesterol. The trendy duck egg is particularly dangerous: Fattier than chicken eggs, duck eggs have 619 milligrams of cholesterol compared to the chicken egg’s 186 milligrams. “You really should only be eating one egg a day, and, especially if you have cholesterol issues, you shouldn’t be eating the yolk.”

And, she adds, “If you are eating it with pork and sauces, you are just going to gain weight.” (A chicken egg has 70 calories while a duck egg has 130 calories.)

Just don’t tell that to the slender throngs packing into Seamus Mullen’s Greenwich Village hot spot Tertulia to nibble on tapas such as suckling pig cheek topped with a fried quail egg — or Alex Stupak’s nearby Empellon for sopes (fried masa tartlets) filled with refried beans and a poached quail egg.

Not surprisingly, there are few egg frontiers that have yet to be crossed: “I’ve not played with an ostrich egg,” muses Derby. “It seems like a lot of egg to me. It’s a little intimidating.”

Cardoz is also stumped: “I haven’t seen a dessert made with a whole egg,” he says, pausing. “Maybe I should challenge my pastry chef to do something with that.”

Please rate this product: