3 menu trends that could go mainstream

lotus root

What’s currently trending in independent restaurants may spark a menu idea for other types of operations. To track common threads in food and beverage, Technomic examined more than 50 menus from independent restaurants across the U.S., ranging from food trucks to fine-dining destinations. Here are three emerging ingredients that may find their way to more mainstream menus, gathered from Technomic’s most recent Independent Insights report, powered by Ignite.

Fried bologna

fried bologna

As chefs continue to dive into regional American foods, ring bologna is starting to show up on indie menus. This humble lunch meat has long been a local specialty in the Midwest, Appalachia and some Southern states, used mainly as a sandwich filling or fried breakfast meat. Now restaurants are showcasing ring bologna on charcuterie plates and bar menus as well as a sandwich ingredient.

At Tenn16 Food & Drink Co. in Nashville, a restaurant offering “Southern cuisine with a Cajun accent,” the menu lists a Fried Bologna sandwich with provolone, romaine, tomato, local bacon and mustard on sourdough. And the fried bologna sandwich at Barrel Proof Kitchen in New Orleans is built with housemade bologna.


urfa pepper boxes

In the continuing quest for spicy ingredients, chefs are exploring peppers from every corner of the globe. Urfa, a sun-dried Turkish chili pepper characterized by a hot-sweet-smoky-sour flavor, is deep red in color and usually available ground into flakes. According to Technomic’s Flavor Consumer Trend Report, consumers are gravitating toward more complex spicy flavors rather than foods that provide a blast of straight heat. Urfa fits that profile, and chefs are using it to spice up meats, vegetables and cheese dishes.

Kismet, a Mediterranean restaurant in Los Angeles, serves up potatoes with labneh, macadamia nuts, cured scallops and urfa pepper. Over in Pacific Grove, Calif., Jeninni Kitchen & Wine Bar menus eggplant fries with urfa pepper and honey garlic aioli.


lotus root

Long a staple in Chinese cuisine, lotus root is now moving into more applications—as are other parts of the plant, including the seeds, stem and flowers. The Asian vegetable is traditionally fried, but it also adapts well to boiling, braising and steaming. Lotus root is rich in nutrients and boasts a wide range of health benefits, such as improving digestion, regulating blood pressure, aiding blood circulation, boosting immunities and relieving stress.

While not exactly touting these benefits, chefs are finding inventive ways to incorporate lotus on the menu—most often in Asian-inspired dishes. At Afuri Ramen + Izakaya in Portland, Ore., yuzu-marinated salmon is prepared with miso, pickled root vegetables and fried lotus root. Soul Tavern in Miami Beach, Fla., a plant-based gastropub, menus vegan sushi rolls filled with lotus root, spinach, daikon, cucumber, dried calabash, bamboo shoots, shiso and truffled tofu aioli. Others are using lotus petals as a garnish.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Satya Menard as global CEO of its schools and universities segments.

Menard has been with Sodexo for 20 years, holding senior roles within the company such as CEO of benefits and rewards services for Central Europe and CEO of Central and South America for on-site services.

Most recently, Menard was CEO of service operations, a capacity in which he coordinated internal support to operations including service experts in facilities management, food, supply chain and information services and technology.

Menard will transition to the role beginning...

Sponsored Content
little caesars

From PODS ®.

Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, Little Caesars® is the largest carryout-only pizza chain in the United States. Founded in 1959 as a single, family-owned restaurant, Little Caesars has become the third largest pizza chain in the world with stores in 23 countries and territories worldwide, including in each of the 50 U.S. states. Each day it serves more than three million pizzas to its customers.

All the equipment used by Little Caesars is supplied by Blue Line Distribution, a wholly owned subsidiary of the restaurant franchise. This includes foodservice...

Industry News & Opinion

A new law in Washington will expand Breakfast After the Bell programs throughout the state, the Daily Fly reports.

Signed into law on Wednesday by Gov. Jay Inslee, HB 1508 requires that schools in which at least 70% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals offer Breakfast After the Bell by the time the 2019-2020 school year begins.

The food offered at breakfast must meet federal nutrition standards and can’t be made up of more than 25% added sugar. Schools must also give preference to food that is fresh and grown in the state.

The breakfast period can...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Southern California in Los Angeles will begin offering fresh kosher meals three times a week at its USC Village Dining Hall, the Daily Trojan reports.

The meals will be delivered to the dining hall every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening by a local kosher butcher beginning March 20. The butcher will also deliver sandwiches, salads and other kosher items to a marketplace on campus.

Around 15 Orthodox students who are on meal plans will be able to enjoy the meals, according to the Daily Trojan. Students can receive their meals at the cashier’s desk in...

FSD Resources