Spring menu trends to keep an eye on as the weather heats up

By Aaron Jourden

Spring has officially sprung, giving chains and independent restaurants leave to launch fresh new concepts and push the trends that will help define 2018. Below, we highlight some of the standouts to watch on Canadian menus.

Thin and Flat

Demand for lighter options, texture contrasts, authenticity and new ethnic ingredient experiences are some of the drivers behind the many thin crusts and flatbreads that pizza and sandwich chains are rolling out. They’re often handheld, which is increasingly important to catch the growing grab-and-go market. They also cross dayparts and menu categories, and are perfect canvases for on-trend, exotic flavours from North Africa and the Middle East.

Menu Examples

  • Boston Pizza: Thin Crust Creations feature elevated ingredients such as barrel-aged Sriracha, prosciutto and bocconcini cheese on artisan thin crusts prepared with hand-pressed dough.
  • Pita Land: A new line of Saj Wraps feature fillings like chicken and beef shawarma stuffed into their delicate namesake flatbreads.
  • Quiznos: New Sammies sandwiches with chipotle chicken, barbecue steak or ranch chicken folded inside flatbread.

Mashups March On

The fusion of two unlikely foodstuffs into one buzz-building dish — one of the hottest menu trends a few years ago — is re-emerging among chains as a technique to create indulgent, eccentric and differentiated products that can garner not just attention, but foot traffic, inviting guests in with that oh-so-Instagrammable wow factor.

Menu Examples:

  • Cora: Omelette burgers that take Cora’s range of signature omelettes and work them into a rich brioche bun.
  • Krispy Kreme: Doughnuts stuffed with cookie dough cream, topped with dark chocolate icing and finished with Chips Ahoy! cookie on top.
  • Toujours Mike’s: Poutine grilled cheese sandwich with cheese curds, mozzarella cheese, fries and poutine sauce all layered on country-style white bread.

Hankering for Hummus

The classic Middle Eastern dip, typically served alongside pita, has long been a restaurant favourite. But operators are now increasingly using it to dress up everything from sandwiches and salads to build-your-own bowls and pizzas. It’s adaptable, healthy and, despite its familiarity, still retains an exotic quality.

Menu Examples:

  • Scores Rotisserie: New line of salads includes the Foodie, featuring hummus, baby spinach, green beans, feta cheese, sumac onions, crab salad, edamame, tortilla chips and pickled turnips.
  • Select Sandwich Co.: The Hot Greek Wrap pairs hummus with grilled chicken, fried onions, peppers and Greek feta cheese.
  • Yuzu Sushi: The VG Yuzumaki roll features sushi-staple pickled-ginger worked into hummus and rolled up with quinoa, avocado, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, mesclun mix and green onion. An added kick comes from Sriracha hummus on the outside, with sesame, jalapeno and, naturally, more pickled ginger.

 

About the author

Aaron Jourden is an editor for Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. Visit technomic.com for more information.

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