Fall has officially begun, but restaurant chains have been busy with seasonal menu launches for several weeks. Pumpkin flavors began emerging as early as August, and there’s been a surge in other ingredients in step with the season. Read on for a look at what's hitting menus now.
Corner Bakery Cafe
Plant-based meat stars in two new items at Corner Bakery Cafe. After testing Beyond Beef in Los Angeles, the fast casual is taking the product nationwide in the form of meatballs. The Beyond Meatball Panini also includes provolone and marinara sauce on grilled sourdough bread, while Beyond Meatball Linguine pairs the plant-based meatballs with pasta, marinara sauce and grated Parmesan. Guests can get 50% off either item through Sunday.
On the dessert and beverage sides of the menu, Corner Bakery is bringing back cakes and coffees with fall flavors. Candied Pecan Baby Bundt Cakes are available in two variations: Maple Pecan Pumpkin and Caramel Pecan Chocolate. White chocolate and mint combine in two new coffee drinks, a cold brew and a latte. Customers have the opportunity to make a donation to Habitat for Humanity when they purchase the coffees online.
Fresh & Co.
The fall menu from New York City-based Fresh & Co., which debuted earlier this week, also goes in a plant-forward direction. The spicy Sticky Tofu Bowl combines bean curd with fiery pickled peppers, broccoli, radishes, sesame seeds and scallions, paired with a house-made hot sauce, while the meatless Pomegranate Harvest Salad is a toss of roasted squash, almonds, crispy onions, romaine, kale and feta cheese with a pomegranate vinaigrette. Joining these menu additions is Turkey Chimichurri on sesame bread and a side salad made with quinoa, kimchi spices and veggies.
Einstein Bagels is jumping on another trend with its new gluten-free Eggels. The bagels are actually composed of eggs that have been cooked sous-vide style. The bagel-shaped eggs are not only gluten-free, they are low in carbs, making the item a good fit for those following the keto diet. Eggels are available in two flavors: Three Meat & Cheese (a blend of bacon, turkey sausage, ham, cheddar cheese and everything bagel seasoning) and Veggie Egg White (bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, spinach and asiago cheese).
National Lobster Day takes place on Friday, but Red Lobster is celebrating all week long by offering guests a 15% discount on its $39.99 Lobster Lovers Dream dinner. Included are two butter-poached lobster tails—one from Maine and one rock lobster tail—accompanied by lobster and shrimp linguini Alfredo and two sides.
The casual-dining chain also introduced a new cocktail created to pair well the its iconic Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Red Lobster teamed up with Pepsi to develop the Dew Garita, a margarita-style drink made with Mountain Dew. It’s the first in a roster of potential co-branded food and drink items from the two companies.
Following on the heels of National Lobster Day comes National Seafood Month in October. Perhaps that’s why Los Angeles-based Lemonade rolled out three fish items this week. Joining the health-focused menu are Baja Poke Tacos, a Seared Ahi Tuna Bowl and Salmon Spinach Salad featuring the concept’s signature citrus-mustard poached salmon.
The dishes lean toward Asian and Pacific Island flavor profiles with California influences. The tuna bowl, for example, incorporates coriander, pickled onions and cucumbers, macadamia nuts and ponzu, while the tacos combine ahi tuna, sweet corn and jicama slaw, avocado, jalapeno aioli, cilantro and corn nuts seasoned with chile and lime. The tacos can be ordered in kit form as well, to build-your-own at home.
There’s a new taco choice at Bartaco too. The latest #bartacosecret menu item is an Ancho-Braised Beef Taco. It’s filled with beef braised with three chile varieties—ancho, arbol and chipotle—along with aromatics and mezcal to create spicy and smoky flavor notes. The taco is topped with crisp red cabbage pickled with mustard and coriander and a garnish of cilantro and lime. The LTO is available through Oct. 3.
The new “valuest” menu at Taco John’s offers $1, $2 and $3 items, with tacos falling into the middle. For $2, customers can order up a Chicken, Bacon Guac Street Taco filled with grilled chicken, bacon, guacamole, shredded cheddar and shredded lettuce. One dollar gets you a Chicken Snack Quesadilla or cinnamon-sugar dusted tortilla strips, while loaded potatoes topped with nacho cheese sauce and a Sirloin Steak Potato Griller go for $3.
Bob Evans Restaurants
Family-dining chain Bob Evans is touting its made-to-order hand-breaded chicken. The five-step process, which the brand claims creates a crisper, juicier chicken, is being offered in a roster of eight honey butter chicken and biscuit dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pictured is the Honey Butter Chicken & Biscuit Family Meal for six, which comes with a bottle of local clover honey.
Insomnia Cookies, which built its business on late-night cookie deliveries, is throwing its annual PJ Party today. It’s traditional for fans to don pajamas while they munch on their order of cookies, and the company has a new design available decorated with images of mouths. Insomnia also is launching two new cookies to enjoy during the PJ party. The Galaxy Cookie is a chocolate cookie with white chocolate chips and iridescent sprinkles and Big and Little Dipper cookies come with buttercream icing for spreading or dunking.