By Sophie Mir
With summer drawing to a close, restaurants are ringing in the seasonal turn by getting back to basics. Lemon-based sauces and dressings are showing up on menus more frequently, while old-school favourites are provoking nostalgia trips and, operators hope, a corresponding wave of social media support. And while house-made dish components are any good kitchen’s bread and butter, restaurants are increasingly foregrounding the hard work going into each plate. Below, we highlight restaurants that are ahead of the transitional trends that’ll take us into cooler weather.
To diversify their menus with strong and distinct flavours, operators are offering lemon-based condiments and sauces with classic dishes, such as salads and seafood. Lemons have traditionally done a lot of heavy lifting in kitchens across a variety of different cuisines, contributing bracing, dish-balancing acidity and an appealing high note of flavour. They’re also ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive, making it a familiar ingredient that consumers know and trust
- Duke Pubs: Despite its British motif, Duke Pubs recently offered launched a new Greek salad that includes grape tomatoes, red and green peppers, red onions, Kalamata olives, feta cheese and lemon vinaigrette.
- Eggspectation: The brunch chain’s new crab cake offered on a bed of spicy slaw with lemon aioli.
- Bier Markt: Beer-friendly steak-cut calamari is marinated in lager and served with lemon garlic aioli.
Over-the-top and classic desserts often appeal to Millennials and Gen Zers alike by provoking an up-front wow factor and reminiscence that can be shared on social media. They’re fun, showy and perfect for the ‘Gram.
- Tim Hortons: Deviating from donuts, Tim’s launched its Mini Reese’s Pieces Brownie, topped with peanut butter fluff and Mini Reese’s Pieces.
- Eggspectation: The new Banana Split Waffle Ice Cream is an exercise in Insta-friendly decadence. Belgian waffles are topped with caramelized pineapples and bananas, strawberries, ice cream and chocolate and maple salted caramel sauces.
- The Burger’s Priest: Along with its mouth-watering, divinely-inspired burgers, the Priest recently put old-fashioned shakes on offer, serving up the holy trinity of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
As consumers demand more authentic and locally sourced foods, operators are drawing attention to their hard work by calling out their housemade preparations. The simple change in menu text adds a premium touch that can help operators distinguish themselves from their competitors.
- The Canadian Brewhouse: Proving the inclusivity of Canadiana, the Brewhouse’s new tempura shrimp highlights the house-made dipping sauce served alongside its tempura shrimp.
- Olive Garden: Everybody’s family restaurant upped its gourmet game in a Italian-Mexican mashup of house-made pasta chips layered with Italian cheeses and meat sauce, topped with cherry peppers and an alfredo drizzle.
- Good Earth Coffeehouse: Its new granola bar features nuts, seeds and whole grains sweetened with honey in a house-made take on a lunchbox classic.