menu trends

November 2017’s top menu trends to watch

By Aaron Jourden

Below we will highlight some of the leading menu trends to watch on Canadian menus in November 2017.

Attention-grabbing apps

About the trend: Operators are featuring innovative and out-of-the-ordinary starters to create excitement at the top of the menu. These new offerings range from those that are highly indulgent to those with wild and unexpected flavour combinations and builds.

  • Check-builders
  • Shareable and snackable
  • Generate brand buzz

Menu Examples:

  • The Works—cheese-filled poutine bites made of breaded cheese seasoned with smoked garlic, served over the chain’s bacon sticks with gravy or marinara on the side
  • KFC—fried chicken tenders topped melted cheese, diced tomatoes, chives, jalapenos and sour cream
  • Milestones—cheese balls prepared with a five-cheese combo of colby jack, jalapeno Monterey Jack, smoked havarti, Asiago and goat cheese, served with tomato-chorizo ragu for dipping

Classics, revisited

About the trend: Casual-dining and family-style chains are taking classic dishes and recipes and contemporizing them with premium ingredients and modern twists. It’s a way for operators to give customers something familiar and craveable, but with a modern spin.

  • Nostalgic
  • Modern adaptations
  • Cold-weather craveability

Menu Examples:

  • Kelsey’s Original Roadhouse—“throwback” tuna melt with tuna salad topped, red and green peppers and a Gouda cheese blend, served on a toasted slice of French loaf
  • Perkins Restaurant & Bakery—a take on pigs in a blanket with pork sausage links wrapped in pancakes, served with eggs and a choice of hash browns, potato tots or fruit
  • The Pickle Barrel—elevated beef and mushrooms with sliced striploin steak and Ontario woodland mushrooms sauteed in a savoury sauce and served over roasted root vegetable mash and local seasonal vegetables

From the smokehouse

About the trend: Slow-smoked meats like brisket and pulled pork continue to trend on menus, and operators are featuring smokehouse flavours and ingredients on a variety of new and classic entrees.

  • Bold, assertive flavour profiles
  • Underscore authenticity in preparation
  • Hard to replicate in the home

Menu Examples:

  • Little Caesars—new pizza with a smokehouse-seasoned crust, barbecue sauce, mozzarella and Muenster cheeses, slow-smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and bacon crumbles
  • Arby’s—smokehouse pork belly sandwich with hickory-smoked pork belly, cheddar, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise and crispy onions on a star-top bun
  • Sub—brisket sub with hardwood-smoked beef brisket, red onions, green peppers, mushrooms and horseradish garlic aioli

About the author:

Aaron Jourden is the managing editor – global & distribution at Chicago-based Technomic Inc., a Winsight company. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. For more information visit

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