What’s trending on restaurant menus in 2016
Technology has enabled today’s diners to find out what’s new and cool in food with the click of a button. That’s why chefs and restaurateurs need to keep their menus fresh and exciting. Here is what America is likely going to see more of:
The year of the veggie
Vegetables are being brought to the forefront this year, as the traditional side dish continues to be featured in bold, new ways that are both nutritious and flavorful. One third of diners say that they don’t have time to cook healthy meals for themselves, and when looking at restaurants, 50% of them say that part of their decision process is to see if the restaurant offers healthy options.
One example of this is cauliflower, a versatile ingredient that can be transformed into everything from pizza crust to no-rice pilaf to fritters. As diners look for alternatives to high-carb and starchy foods, cauliflower has taken center stage among chefs and diners alike. It has seen a 4-year growth penetration of more than 29%. It’s stats like these that have many food industry experts dubbing cauliflower as “the new kale.”
An appetite for appetizers
As diners, especially Millennials, have busier and busier schedules, they typically don’t have time to sit down for an hour and eat a whole meal. Instead, they’re doing something called “food browsing,” which is eating small amounts of food more regularly throughout the day. Sixty five percent of Millennials also enjoy meeting up after work with friends and co-workers +for food and drinks. This is more of a social activity where they have a few drinks and sample some food without choosing an item off the dinner menu.
This trend has led restaurateurs to shift their focus more on appetizers instead of entrées. This kind of popularity is also the foundation behind many small-plates restaurants. Having appetizers available on the menu is cheaper and can be a lower risk than just having main dishes. For diners, it’s a great way for them to try a handful of new recipes and dishes at once.
All beverage trends lead to the bar this year, as experts predict consumers will be seeking more “spirited” cocktails in 2016. Mixology has become a national craze, and more and more restaurants are jumping on the bandwagon. Similar to food, restaurateurs are also starting with a simple base that allows them to dress beverages up or down as much as they like.
And, in a social media savvy world, these “spirited” cocktails can also serve as social currency. Diners nationwide are ordering drinks that lend themselves to Instagram images and quick videos in addition to appeasing their taste buds.