Trend Watch

Trend Watch: Palm sugar, flavoured spaetzle, balsamic cocktails

By Katie Belflower

Staying on top of the latest menu trends is key for any restaurant operator.

Offering an up-to-the-minute creative menu has arguably become even more important during the pandemic era, when setting yourself apart from the competition has more value than ever.

This latest edition of Trend Watch from Technomic and RestoBiz focuses on three menu trends that are being seen across Canada right now: palm sugar, flavoured spaetzle, and balsamic cocktails.

Palm sugar

An alternative to refined white sugar, palm sugar is derived from the sap in palm trees. The sugar has a complex caramel flavour and is less sweet than traditional brown or white sugars.

This trend shows a continuance of the movement toward more healthful food alternatives, as the sugar is minimally processed and retains high levels of plant-based vitamins and minerals in its unrefined state. The sweetener is also sustainable, with minimal environmental impact.

Menu examples:

  • La Palma in Toronto served a cheese dish made up of Prima Donna Forte with palm sugar and apricot.
  • Favorites in Toronto menued a Pineapple Snack with Impossible pork and palm sugar.

Flavoured spaetzle

Operators are adding their own spin to spaetzle — German egg noodles — by infusing it with citrus, nut and herb flavours. German flavours are menued on 13.7 per cent of menus, according to Technomic’s Ignite Menu data in Canada.

Operators are typically serving flavoured spaetzle alongside proteins such as pork or chicken.

Menu examples:

  • Pip in Edmonton, Alberta, offered Pork Schnitzel with lemon spaetzle, mushroom gravy and butter-braised cabbage.
  • RGE RD in Edmonton, Alberta, served Pilatus Farms Bison with hazelnut spaetzle, grainy mustard, charred carrot and black currants.

Balsamic cocktails

Mixologists are spotlighting balsamic vinegar in cocktails in Canada. The dark, concentrated vinegar originating in Italy is featured on 27.1 per cent of menus, according to Technomic’s Ignite Menu data in Canada, though is typically found on salads or in savoury meat dishes.

Trending now is balsamic in both sweet and savoury cocktails, often alongside vodka and some type of wine for additional grape.

Menu examples:

  • MILA in Vancouver, British Columbia, menued Papa Don’t Peach with Mionetto Prosecco, vanilla-infused Absolut Vodka, peach juice, lemon juice and balsamic reduction.
  • Twisted Fork in Vancouver, British Columbia, served the Twisted Mary with vodka, red wine, balsamic vinegar, tomato juice and spices.

Trend Watch is a regular contribution to RestoBiz based on restaurant and menu trends noted by Technomic Inc.

Katie Belflower is Associate Editor for Technomic, 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, including menu trends.

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