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Duck

Duck, a game meat, appears on menus more in the fall than other times of the year, but it also enjoyed robust growth in the first half of the year, according to GuestMetrics, which monitors point-of-sale data at full-service restaurants.

The consulting firm said duck sales grew by 7 percent between January and June of 2013 compared to an overall food-sales growth rate of 1.8 percent. Duck tacos, Peking duck and duck salad were particular sales drivers, GuestMetrics said.

When chicken wing prices skyrocketed around the time of the Super Bowl this year, some restaurants turned to duck wings as alternatives. Chef Greg Boschetti of Temple Bar in Cambridge, Mass., served confit duck wings, which he deep-fried to order and served with a sweetened soy-sauce reduction, priced at $11 for an order of 10 to 12 wings.

Brick House Tavern + Tap, a 13-unit chain of Houston-based Ignite Restaurant Group, recently introduced duck wings. A three-quarter-pound order of slowly roasted and flash-fried wings in a spicy brown sugar-based sauce is priced at $11.

Duck wings from Brick House Tavern + Tap

Mark Liberman, chef of AQ restaurant in San Francisco, said he plans to offer rotisserie duck on the menu at TBD, a restaurant scheduled to open in October that prepares all of its food in wood-burning hearths.

Liberman, who was raised in the San Francisco Bay area, said he grew up on rotisserie duck, so it’s a nostalgic item for him. He also said that whenever he puts duck on a menu it’s a top seller.

Nine-unit steakhouse Eddie Merlot’s plans to offer a classic duck á l’orange this fall — a confit leg and pan-seared duck breast in orange beurre blanc, served with mashed sweet potatoes, priced at $33.

Duck has even made it into a shepherd’s pie at Avant at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego, where chef Nicolas Bour adds shredded duck confit to a duck-stock-based sauce and tops it with whipped potatoes. The dish is priced at $28.

Other types of squash

McDonald’s said it would introduce a pumpkin spice latte this fall, meaning that the drink, which Starbucks popularized as a seasonal offering, is now everywhere. Pumpkin doughnuts, cupcakes, pancakes and pies have proliferated in the fall for the past several years. Now chefs are looking for something new that’s autumnal, appropriate for dessert, and made with other types of squash.

The Refinery in Tampa, Fla., will offer a butternut squash semifreddo with salted orange caramel. The dish, priced at $7, has a little bit of pumpkin in the form of candied pumpkin seeds, which the restaurant refers to by its Spanish name, pepitas. Butternut squash crumble is on the menu at Library Bistro and Bookstore Bar in Seattle, priced at $8.

At Oceana in New York City, a dessert called Mont Blanc, because it resembles a snow-capped mountain, is made with puréed chestnuts and blue Hubbard squash topped with whipped cream and served with smoked vanilla ice cream. The dessert is priced at $12.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: Sept. 12, 2013  A previous version of this article misstated Eddie Merlot's unit count. The steakhouse has nine units.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary