Economic recovery is often reflected in culinary trends. Improved consumer confidence tends to foster exuberance in restaurant kitchens as chefs experiment with new flavors, combinations and techniques.
However, although macroeconomic indicators currently show improvement, food and beverage trends are retrenching a bit this summer as restaurateurs see customers double-down on the familiar.
Back to Basics, but better
Omni Hotels and Resorts’ cocktails jumped 20 percent when it did away with its drink list that had signature cocktails with many of the mixology flourishes that seem so popular. The hotel in its place presented a pared down list of Manhattans, Martinis and Mules.
The cocktails still had distinctive flourishes — the four Manhattans each had a unique combination of whiskey, vermouth and bitters — but they were easy for customers to understand and easy for bartenders to make.
This tactic is being reflected in the quick service segment, where Krystal has introduced Stackers — simply double-decker sliders — and Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s have introduced their Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich, an improved version of their chicken sandwich, for which the sister chains replaced batter-fried chicken tenders with a hearty five-ounce breast and served it on the baked-in-house buns that they reserve for their premium sandwiches. Both of those items are permanent additions.
Wendy’s is reflecting the back-to-basics approach by bringing back last summer’s limited time offers: the Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger and accompanying Pretzel Pub Chicken Sandwich.