This week, we take a look at innovative menu moves restaurants are making in the never-ending quest to attract more customers. From beverages to pastry, chefs are developing new items to entice a wide variety of palates.
CNBC reports that Starbucks’ early promotion of its popular seasonal coffee drink, the Pumpkin Spice Latte, encouraged other restaurant concepts to follow suit with timing the debuts of fall specials. Einstein Bros. Bagels and Noah's New York Bagels launched their pumpkin-infused seasonal items in late August, as Starbucks did, but attributed the decision to early holiday promotions pushing fall specials sooner.
At the bar, mixologists are experimenting with carbonation, saying that bubbles are worth the trouble when it comes to creating beverages, according to The Globe and Mail. Some bartenders are turning typically-flat cocktails like the Sidecar and Manhattan into effervescent drinks. The challenge is to avoid excessively diluting the beverage.
In food trends, Scandinavian cooking continues to make inroads on U.S. menus, as the cuisine continues to gain global prestige. The movement has found a strong home in New York City, where Scandinavian restaurants continue to multiply, and which will host its first Nordic food festival in October, Metro finds.
Chefs are paying particular attention to the last course of the meal, dessert. Sweets made with cheeses usually reserved for savory dishes are popping up on menus, Today reports. The hotly-anticipated Austin, Texas, restaurant Qui serves an aged Cheddar ice cream sandwich, which sandwiches Cheddar ice cream between two cajeta — or Mexican goat-milk caramel — waffle cookies. Some restaurants are also finding inspiration in the cheese course. At New Orleans’ Restaurant R’Evolution, chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto offered a sweet-and-savory Green Hill Cheese Sformato with berry gelée and fennel marmalade.
And Dominique Ansel, the tireless creator of the Cronut, continues to set pastry trends. On the heels of his Frozen S’mores, the New York City-based pâtissier is now turning out a Magic Soufflé. Ansel has developed a process that allows a molten chocolate soufflé to be wrapped inside a toasted orange-blossom brioche. Serious Eats New York says Ansel “continues to blur the line between traditional bakery offerings and specialty sweets designed to be consumed like plated desserts at a restaurant.”