Adding unique flavors to your ordinary dishes are a great tactic for restaurant marketing.
The last few years have seen a substantial rise in menu items inspired bold heavy flavors like Sriracha and Thai Chili. Perhaps we blame The Food Network but foodies threw around the term ‘umami’ like it was going out of style. Well, turns out, umami and those flavor-forward sauces are going out of style.
As diners become more educated about their food and are more adventurous about marrying creative flavors, Technomic has identified the following four ingredients as the new heroes of the menu.
1 . Dark Cherries
Whether chopped in salads, pureed in vinaigrettes or muddled in cocktails, dark cherries offer a sweet, tart note that complements most any meal. Reduced cherries served over a rosemary-marinated pork tenderloin is sure to please even the most discerning palette.
2. Prickly Pear
Once considered something that only appeared on Chopped, prickly pear is popping up on menus from ranging from casual dining to fine dining. Prickly pear makes a fantastic mixer for margaritas and mojitos as well as sorbets and tarts.
3. Bitter Greens
Versatile, inexpensive and perceived as among the healthiest things you can put in your body, bitter greens are a huge trend in menu development. Braised and served with malt vinegar or as an additional level of complexity to a sandwich or salad.
If the previous three ingredients aren’t enough evidence that our taste buds have evolved, the rise in popularity of hibiscus flower is the ultimate proof. As a flavoring agent in cocktails or for a light dessert, hibiscus allows for the ultimate creativity in menu development.
Flexing your culinary muscle is a great way to show your restaurant’s personality. Have your team create a few recipes using some of these ingredients. Test the recipes out on your staff before ever serving it to a customer. Once your staff gives a dish the “thumbs up” create a Pinterest board. Post photos of your new creation and a brief overview of how to make it. Pinterest is a great place to showcase that your restaurant is a “thought leader” in the culinary space and drive people into your restaurant to try the new dish. Don’t worry about giving out a recipe to your customers, it shows that you are confident in your product and trust me their creation will never be quite as good as yours!
Test these ingredients out in your restaurant with limited-time offers, signature cocktails and happy hour specials. Trend-setting dishes are great fodder for social media, public relations outreach and digital media.
Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.